Quick act medics save asthma woman

ASTHMA sufferer Kim Harding nearly died because no Ipswich ambulances were immediately available when she fell ill.If it was not for the fast actions of three rapid response paramedics, and doctor and nurse teams at Ipswich Hospital, the mother of four knows she would not be here today.

By Jessica Nicholls

ASTHMA sufferer Kim Harding nearly died because no Ipswich ambulances were immediately available when she fell ill.

If it was not for the fast actions of three rapid response paramedics, and doctor and nurse teams at Ipswich Hospital, the mother of four knows she would not be here today.

Despite their trauma, the 46-year-old and her husband Ivor have nothing but praise for the three who fought to save her last Saturday night, while waiting for an ambulance to travel to town from Haverhill.


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Thankfully one was freed up at Ipswich Hospital quicker than expected, and Kim from Kerry Avenue was rushed in.

But for Ivor and Kim, last Saturday night was a nightmare they would rather forget.

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The drama started when Kim began to have an asthma attack.

But her usual inhalers had no effect, and her condition rapidly deteriorated until she was fighting for breath.

Panic-stricken Ivor phoned the emergency doctor, but was amazed when he first had to listen to a recorded message telling him to press certain buttons for certain services and was then left on the line listening to music until someone picked up the phone.

He said: "A woman came on the line and took a few details and then she said that a doctor would be in touch.

"We waited around five minutes, which seems like a really long time in those circumstances.

"When the doctor came on he asked me the same questions the woman had asked me, and then said could I take my wife into the surgery.

"She was gasping for breath in the background so I just slammed the phone down and dialled 999."

Ivor said he was amazed with the speed with which the two paramedics in a rapid response vehicle appeared.

He said: "It was almost as soon as I put the phone down that they turned up.

"Two men jumped out and then another one turned up. They were absolutely brilliant.

"One apologised and said to me that the ambulance was having to come from Newmarket – he said there were normally eight on in our area but because of staff sickness there were only four ambulances on."

Ivor also believes it took around 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive at their house to what was a life-threatening situation.

But an East Anglian Ambulance Trust spokesman said treatment was given on scene within five minutes, which is often more crucial in asthma cases than a trip to hospital.

He also confirmed that Suffolk had seven ambulance crews on duty – slightly fewer than its maximum of ten – as well as rapid responders. As there were no major sickness problems, Ipswich had the usual two quick response teams operating.

He said the first rapid responder arrived four and a half minutes after the 9.56pm call, and the second three minutes later – both beating the national response time target of eight minutes.

He said a Haverhill ambulance was initially despatched, but then an Ipswich ambulance became free at Ipswich Hospital, and that arrived in Kerry Avenue at 10.18pm – 22 minutes after the original call.

He said: "The patient was treated at the scene for 17 minutes - with treatment continuing on the scene after the ambulance arrived - before being take to hospital at 10.35pm. The most important thing was that she got the appropriate treatment quickly."

Ivor admitted that he was scared and that he really believed he was going to lose his wife.

For Kim however, the only thing she really remembers about the incident, is the fact that the paramedics were able to save her life.

Weblinks:

www.eastanglianambulance.com

www.asthma.org.uk

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