A Cornwall guest house owner thanks ambulance service after a cardiac arrest

A Cornwall guest house owner has thanked South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) for saving his life when he had a cardiac arrest minutes after returning home from holiday.

Keith Richards, 64 from Penzance, collapsed in his bedroom on 9 March following a two-month cruise around South America.

Keith with his family and the ambulance crew

His heart stopped beating, and he had a minimal chance of survival.

But members of his family and SWASFT paramedics treated him quickly and effectively to save him.

At a special event in Penance Ambulance Station on Monday 16 July, Keith and his family were reunited with the team who rushed to his aid.

Keith said: “I am hugely thankful to everyone involved on that day for their prompt response, and more importantly their resolve in saving my life in a very frightening scenario.

“I have no recollection of what happened. But I gather everyone got on board, and it was all hands on deck.”

Keith said he cannot remember driving his family home from Southampton on the day of the incident. He managed to carry some travel cases upstairs, before losing consciousness.

He cut his head open in the resulting fall, which alerted his family to the emergency.

Lindsay, one of his daughters, said: “We heard a thud. So we rushed upstairs and found dad lying face down with blood everywhere.”

Louise, his other daughter, called 999 to get help. Hollie Eames, an Emergency Medical Dispatcher in the SWASFT Control Room assessed Keith’s condition and gave instructions to the family of how to do lifesaving CPR.

SWASFT Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) and Student Paramedic Grahame Barton, Paramedic Jonathan Thomas, and Student Paramedic Bradley Gwennap-Bawden all arrived at the scene within five minutes.

They were followed by Paramedic Jamie Harris, ECA Michael Howard, and Community First Responder, Chris Scrase.

The team provided lifesaving support, including seven shocks with a defibrillator, to get Keith’s heart beating again.

Keith was driven by ambulance to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske where he was put into induced coma. After three weeks of care, he went back home and returned to work.

Keith said: “My recovery was so quick. Three weeks after having a cardiac arrest, I was serving breakfast to guests. It was crazy.

“I’ve had some down times since then, but I’m so grateful to still be here.”

Lindsay and Louise said: “We would like to express our pure gratitude to everyone involved in saving our dad on that fateful day.

“The lady who took our 999 call tried to keep us calm, which was nearly impossible, and the instructions she gave us contributed to saving his life. If the paramedics had not arrived so quickly or had not worked so tirelessly, our loved one would no longer be with us.

“The work you all do deserves so much praise and admiration. What is more important and heroic than helping to save lives? We would all be lost without the services you provide.

“You’ve given us the greatest gift, and we will always remember what you did. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The family gave ‘thank you’ gift bags to each member of the crew and to EMD Hollie.

SWASFT ECA Grahame said: “Keith is a member of a very special club. Not many people survive a cardiac arrest. Fortunately he got the right treatment at the right time.”

Hollie added: “It makes my job feel so worthwhile knowing I have made a difference, and that thanks to everyone’s efforts Keith is still with us today.”

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.

Some 30,000 people are treated for cardiac arrests in the UK every year.

Just 9% survive an out-of-hospital arrest, but their chances increase significantly when CPR is administered early.

A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is having a cardiac arrest: call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a defibrillator if one is available.


Copy supplied by SWASFT