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Cardiac Arrest survivor meets with Paramedic who saved her life

5th April 2019

People don’t actually get to choose where they suffer a cardiac arrest. But let’s say you could choose. Where would you pick? Would you think perhaps just outside a hospital with a paramedic only yards away.

That is exactly what happened to Newtownabbey woman, Rita Thomas.

On January 6th, Rita had experienced a bit of chest pain and took herself, the next day, to the Mater hospital in Belfast. Rita tells us she was checked over and that neither her bloods nor ECG showed up anything irregular.

She left the hospital and walked out onto the Crumlin Rd where she collapsed. Passers by ran to an ambulance parked at the ED and alerted Ardoyne Paramedic Gavin Coogan to what had happened. Gavin immediately went

to her aid, instructing others to get more help from the ED. CPR was started within seconds and then within minutes Rita was being cared for in the ED.

Things were looking very bleak and, later that evening, her husband, Raymond, was told to prepare himself for the worst.

But overnight Rita’s condition started to improve and the following day she opened her eyes to see only bright lights above her and ceiling panels.

She remembers her first thought was “What happened to me? Why am I here?”
It was all explained to her and she was told she would be transferred to RVH to have a stent inserted.

Rita is already back at work. She not only enjoys life but wakes up every day thankful that she is alive. She knows that everything went her way the day she arrested – outside a hospital and a paramedic on hand. She believes that Gavin was meant to be there on that day.

Today she had an emotional reunion with, an off duty, Gavin in Ardoyne Ambulance Station to thank him personally for what he had done. He, in his modest way, was quick to share the credit with the passer by who alerted him immediately and to the medical teams in the Mater. Between them all, on that day, they did what they were

called to do – save a life.

What about you? Would you know what to do if someone collapsed in front of you – a parent, a sibling, a friend or even a stranger? With early intervention, people can survive out of hospital cardiac arrest. Now is the time to learn CPR – not tomorrow or the day after, or next week or next month. It is now.

Join the drive for a #communityoflifesavers. You never know when you could be called upon to save a life.