Graham Langley and Richard Lovegrove
A former British Airways cabin crew member was inspired to volunteer for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) after saving the life of his friend who collapsed during dinner.
Graham Langley, 63, from Bishop’s Waltham in Hampshire, launched into action utilising emergency training from his 20-year flight career when 66-year-old Richard Lovegrove fell ill suddenly and lost consciousness on an evening in November last year.
Suspecting a cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and stops pumping blood around the body, he immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while other guests called 999.
He continued this for 10 minutes until the arrival of local Community First Responder (CFR) David Spackman, a trained volunteer for SCAS funded by South Central Ambulance Charity.
David instructed Graham to continue with chest compressions while he set up an automated external defibrillator (AED) and then delivered several shocks before paramedics and air ambulance doctors arrived to continue resuscitation and treatment.
Richard regained a pulse and was taken to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth where he spent six days in a coma and almost eight weeks recovering before returning home. He has made a near-complete recovery from his cardiac arrest but continues to suffer some memory loss as a result.
“When Richard collapsed and slumped in his chair seconds after a conversation our friends looked at each other and I realised he wasn’t right at all,” said Graham, who spoke out ahead of World Restart a Heart Day tomorrow (Saturday).
“I’d worked for BA as cabin crew for 20 years and had just retired. We had obviously been trained for emergency situations so I just went into training mode automatically.
“I said, ‘get him on the floor now’ and when I realised he wasn’t responsive at all, I started CPR while one of the other guys called 999. We also sent someone else to try to get the local defibrillator from the pub.”
He added: “The response from the NHS was phenomenal. First David the CFR arrived and very quickly after giving Richard a couple of shocks, two ambulances, the air ambulance crew in a car, a doctor and other professionals arrived.
“It took ages to get Richard stabilised but eventually they said that they had a pulse and that he was still with us. It was such a relief to hear and when they finally stabilised him enough and took him out to the ambulance, it was so lovely.
“I remember watching Richard’s hand move when he was lying on the trolley and that was such a relief and I knew he had a chance. It was an amazing feeling.”
Around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) occur in the UK every year and emergency services attempt resuscitation in around half – but just one in 10 people survive to hospital discharge.
However, chances of survival are two to three times higher with immediate bystander CPR – and a report published earlier this year by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) found 35.5% of patients who received CPR from a bystander survived to hospital discharge.
Richard, a managing director of a local insurance brokers, said he felt like “some kind of celebrity” when he was followed up by his local GP, who explained just how slim survival chances are for people who suffer cardiac arrests outside of hospital. “The help I had on the day of the incident and the treatment I had at the QA Hospital was terrific,” he said.
“All I remember from the night was Graham telling a story about a friend of his who was ill and, ironically, I said, ‘do you know I’m going to be 66 on Tuesday and I’ve never really been ill in my life’ and that’s all I remember – I woke up in hospital a couple of weeks later.
“I’m just lucky to be around. You just have to grasp it. I just feel very, very lucky.”
After the incident, Graham was praised for his calm conduct under pressure and decided to find out more about the CFR scheme, which sees more than 1,000 specially trained members of the public support the ambulance service by responding to medical emergencies.
They often provide lifesaving first aid to patients before paramedics arrive and assist with ongoing patient care at the scene, attending more than 30,000 incidents every year.
They are funded solely by South Central Ambulance Charity, which provides equipment, training and is responsible for the dedicated vehicle fleet.
Realising he was capable under pressure and seeing the CFR programme in action, Graham decided the join the service and is now a dedicated member of the team of volunteer responders that covers the Bishop’s Waltham, Waltham Chase and Swanmore area.
“Before Richard’s incident I didn’t know about the CFR scheme,” he said. “But the urgency of the incident and speed of the response by the local CFR made me realise how vitally important immediate action was.
“Without the volunteer CFR there would have been a delay in emergency treatment which may have had an impact on Richard’s recovery.
“The feedback from the crew on the night was that I’d done a fantastic job and I realised that I was probably reasonably good under pressure – particularly for emergencies with people.
“Because of the Covid shutdown I’d retired early and was looking for something to do so it just felt right.”
Graham enjoys that every call is different and that he can make a real difference to people within the local community.
He said: “You feel like you’ve made a difference on every call that you’ve been to even if the ambulance is there only a couple of minutes later. You feel like you’re doing something for the community.”
The advice from both Richard and Graham for anyone who experiences a situation like this is to begin chest compressions as soon as possible.
Graham said: “Definitely just get stuck in and start giving someone CPR if you find yourself in this situation and while you’re waiting for help to arrive – this absolutely made all the difference for Richard.”
Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity, said: “What a truly remarkable story this is.
“All of us at SCAS and the charity are delighted to see Richard has made such a positive recovery and we are also so grateful to have Graham on board as a CFR in Bishop’s Waltham – our skilled and dedicated CFRs are so valuable to us.
“All of our volunteers make such a difference to the service we provide for patients and they are also fantastic advocates for the charity, enabling us to constantly add to and upgrade our equipment and ensure they have all the kit they need.”
As part of a series of events leading up to World Restart a Heart Day, SCAS issued an open invitation to members of the public to participate in a live online resuscitation training event at facebook.com/scas999 earlier today which will remain available on the SCAS Facebook page to view at any time. Watch here.
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is calling on “tech-savvy” members of the public to help relatives, friends or neighbours who may find it difficult to access the internet in a bid to get more people using NHS 111 online.
It comes as 999, 111 and patient transport services across the Trust continue to see significant demand – much higher than expected for this time of year.
As a result, people are being urged to utilise 111 online wherever possible as it can provide quick advice on the best healthcare option, including a call back from a trained clinician or nurse, a booked appointment in A&E or advice on self-care.
SCAS provides emergency, urgent care and patient transport to more than four million people across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, as well patient transport for a further three million people in Surrey and Sussex.
“We know what a difficult time this is for everyone and we greatly appreciate the support and understanding of the public as we continue to manage the significant pressures on our 999, 111 and patient transport services,” said Mark Ainsworth, Director of Operations at SCAS.
“The demand on us remains high, in particular on our 111 phone line, so we are again appealing for help from people to alleviate this by utilising 111 online which is a great tool, quick to access and provides instant information and advice.
“However, we know requesting help from the public by urging them to use 111 online isn’t feasible for everyone, particularly those who find it complicated or don’t have the levels of access to technology that others may have.
“Therefore, we are calling on the more tech-savvy members of the public to lend a helping hand their family, friends or neighbours – particularly people who you know live alone – who may find it difficult as, in turn, this will further alleviate the pressure on our 111 call handlers.”
Mr Ainsworth (pictured) said even just offering to support someone who isn’t currently unwell could be beneficial as it means they will have an alternative way of seeking less urgent medical advice when they do require it.
“The more we enable society to have support or access to technology the better as it means we can ensure more people are able to utilise the full range of tools available to them – which is obviously particularly important at great times of stress on the healthcare system,” he said.
People are also being asked to support the Patient Transport Service while it focuses on the discharge of patients from hospitals across the region to free up space for new admissions.
Paul Stevens, Director of Commercial Services at SCAS, said: “People can support us through this challenging period by, wherever possible, finding alternative ways to get to hospital appointments – maybe via family, friends or neighbours, volunteers and community transport or taxis.
“It is also really important that people let us know via the cancellation line 0300 790 0143 if they or a family member has patient transport booked they no longer need so we can use it for another patient.
“We are also keen to hear from anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer car driver for SCAS. Find out more via our website scas.nhs.uk or email email@example.com.”
Staff at South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) are calling on members of the public to put time aside and join them in two live online resuscitation training events next week to mark World Restart a Heart Day.
The Community Engagement and Training team will launch activities from Monday (11 October), expanding the awareness day – which takes place on Saturday, 16 October – to a full week, boosting the opportunity for people to learn lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills.
Jack Ansell, Operations Manager at SCAS, will open the week’s events with an introductory session on Monday at www.facebook.com/scas999 at 10am.
He will highlight how around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) occur in the UK every year and emergency services attempt resuscitation in around 30,000 – but just one in 10 people survive to hospital discharge.
When a cardiac arrest occurs the heart stops pumping blood around the body, which is why CPR and defibrillators – devices which deliver an electric current to shock the heart muscle – enable anyone to provide immediate assistance to people prior to the arrival of emergency services and restart blood flow.
Chances of survival are two to three times higher with immediate bystander CPR – and a report published earlier this year by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) found 35.5% of patients who received CPR from a bystander survived to hospital discharge.
SCAS mascot 999 Ted on Facebook Live last year
The rest of the week will see people directed to a range of videos via SCAS social media channels, including an interview with Nicky Lack, a Community First Responder for SCAS who saved her husband’s life at home one morning by utilising her CPR training.
The awareness drive will culminate on Friday (15 October) in a live CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training session led by Community Engagement and Training Operations Manager David Hamer from 10am.
This will be followed by another live session at 11am led by Mr Ansell in partnership with the University of Portsmouth and St John Ambulance.
Although Restart a Heart training events have traditionally been aimed at schools and have seen staff visit thousands of students across the region during the week preceding the day, this year will see the event remain online for the second year running as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We would normally be out and about visiting schools and teaching children and young people the benefits of CPR and AEDs, however, due to the pandemic and our restrictions on holding public events that isn’t possible, so we will be going online again,” said Mr Hamer.
“What that means, though, is that we can extend our reach even further by offering an open invitation to members of the public everywhere, not just in the SCAS region, to come online and join us for the live session on Friday.
“We want people of all ages to get involved, not just children and young people, so why not make it a workplace event for all the team – particularly people who are working remotely and can log in – just grab a teddy and get hands on!”
Student performing CPR at a previous Restart a Heart school event
He added: “A person’s chances of survival drop by 10% for every minute that they are not receiving CPR, so speed of response is vital and anyone who tunes in on Friday will learn everything they need to know to save the life of a friend, family member or stranger who may need their help one day.”
Professor Charles Deakin, Divisional Medical Director at SCAS and lead for resuscitation, said: “Learning how to perform CPR before you need to use it and how to use a defibrillator – and where they are located in your area – will give someone the best chance of survival from cardiac arrest.
“I would urge everyone to participate in our Facebook Live event on Friday if they can because doing so will equip them with the information and skills they need to save lives.” Hear more from Professor Deakin on our YouTube channel.
The SCAS Facebook Live sessions will take place on Monday and Friday from 10am at www.facebook.com/scas999.
Nationally, Restart a Heart Day is led by the Resuscitation Council UK. For access to more information and a range of resources, visit Restart A Heart Day | Resuscitation Council UK.
Date of issue: 08 October 2021
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and South Central Ambulance Charity’s volunteer responders have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for their contribution to healthcare amid the challenges of COVID-19.
The 1,200-strong team of Community First Responders (CFRs) and Co-Responders are up against four other organisations to be named Outstanding Volunteering Team of the Year at the Helpforce Champions Awards 2021.
Volunteer responders are members of the public trained to support the ambulance service primarily by attending medical emergencies and sometimes providing lifesaving first aid to patients before paramedics arrive.
They also assist with ongoing patient care at the scene and attend more than 30,000 incidents every year. They are funded solely by South Central Ambulance Charity, which provides equipment, training and is responsible for the vehicle fleet of 51.
CFRs volunteer in their spare time – providing a minimum of 20 hours a month each – and cover a population of more than four million across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
Helpforce was set up by former Marie Curie charity chief executive Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett to accelerate the growth and impact of volunteering in the NHS by collaborating with organisations and rapidly sharing insights and best practice.
Its awards ceremony celebrates the invaluable contributions made by volunteers in the NHS and this year will focus on the role they have played – and continue to play – in managing the impact of the pandemic.
“Our CFRs have weathered every storm this year and still come out in strength to provide essential emergency care for patients across our community,” said Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity.
“With the support of SCAS’s Community Engagement and Training team and the charity, this incredible group has enabled us to reach even more patients, treat and leave even more patients in their own homes and supported the welfare of elderly and vulnerable patients by responding to non-injury falls and concern for welfare calls.
“These ‘ordinary’ people take on an extraordinary role in their community and, without them, the demand on the ambulance service would be even greater.”
During the pandemic CFRs have continued to respond to emergencies and support patient care but have also taken on new roles such as introducing ‘Teapot’ refreshment vehicles to provide staff with hot drinks while waiting with patients at emergency departments.
They have also volunteered in the control room and headquarters to dispatch CFRs, helped distribute donated goods from hand cream to coffee across ambulance service sites and taken on a variety of fundraising challenges to raise money for additional equipment and new technology.
Volunteers who had to temporarily stand down due to age or their own health vulnerabilities did not give up and found new ways to support SCAS, joining specific bubbles and providing essential support outside of direct patient care such as helping with vaccination rollouts.
Ms Casey added: “We are incredibly proud of these volunteers who give so much to support their communities and to help others.
“Together as volunteers, an NHS Charity and an NHS Trust we are one team providing an excellent emergency service to patients across four counties and we would be so much less without our volunteers.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of Helpforce, said: “2020 and 2021 have seen the NHS and all our healthcare services face one of the biggest challenges in their history and we have seen volunteers step up in their thousands to help.
“This year we have received a record number of entries for the Helpforce Champions Awards with so many brilliant examples of innovation, great practice, commitment, and real passion for patient care and support for staff across the health and care sector in the UK.
“We want to thank everyone for taking the time to recognise the volunteers and send our congratulations to those who have been shortlisted and we’d like to wish them the best of luck.”
Winners will be announced on 30 October.
SCAS’ Council of Governors will meet (virtually) on Thursday 7th October at 18.30.
This meeting is open to everyone, including Foundation Trust members, SCAS staff and Governors, as well as members of the public.
If you would like to attend this meeting please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the link to join the meeting.
Our Governors represent the interests of the Trust’s members and the general public, and hold the Non-Executive Directors to account for the performance of the SCAS Board and the Trust. You can find out more about our Governors here https://www.scas.nhs.uk/about-scas/council-of-governors/meet-our-governors/
Further details along with a copy of the papers for the meeting are available to view on the SCAS website.
October is Black History Month which honours the achievements, culture and history of black people.
The theme for the month is ‘collaborate to elevate’, building unity and solidarity to amplify our voices and use our collective strength to rise up individually and collectively.
Find out more here