'I'm eternally grateful' - man saved by air ambulance backs festive appeal

Mark and Melanie Drury of Stowmarket. Mark's life was saved by the East Anglian Air Ambulance team

Mark and Melanie Drury of Stowmarket. Mark's life was saved by the East Anglian Air Ambulance team - Credit: EAAA

A 51-year-old man from Suffolk has told how the East Anglian Air Ambulance saved his life, as he backs the charity's Gift of Life Christmas appeal.

EAAA has treated over 20,000 patients - and needs to raise £15million a year to save lives across Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.  

Mark Drury, of Stowmarket, paid tribute to the "fantastic emergency care" he received from the ambulance critical care team in September 2020, when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Mark Drury of Stowmarket after cycling to the EAAA Cambridge base

Mark Drury of Stowmarket after cycling to the EAAA Cambridge base - Credit: EAAA

Just over one year on, he is feeling fit and is nearing a 5,000km target for cycling over the year. 

He said: "East Anglian Air Ambulance helped to make sure that I’m still here today, and for that, and to the people who have funded them over the years, I am eternally grateful."  

He had no prior health concerns, but at 1.30am on September 21 last year, his wife Melanie sensed him stirring unusually in his sleep. She turned on the bedside light to see his ears and lips turning blue.

Melanie called 999 and pulled Mark off the bed, using strength she didn’t know she had, to start CPR on their bedroom floor.  

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An East of England Ambulance Service team arrived 13 minutes later. Paramedics were able to quickly restart Mark’s heart with a defibrillator, but he became agitated and couldn’t be moved safely.

The ambulance team requested support from the EAAA critical care team, which came from Cambridge by rapid response vehicle in 32 minutes.  

An East Anglian Air Ambulance pilot and doctor with an EAAA helicopter

An East Anglian Air Ambulance pilot and doctor with an EAAA helicopter - Credit: EAAA/christaylorphoto.co.uk

Dr Lyle Moncur and critical care paramedic Andy Bates gave Mark a full assessment. He was sedated and intubated, and they accompanied him in the land ambulance to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

The health and safety manager was fitted with an internal defibrillator (ICD), and has so far had no further issues.  

Mark, who grew up in the Sudbury and Glemsford area, is now feeling fine and in August successfully cycled 100km to the EAAA Cambridge base to meet the team who saved him, raising vital funds.

"I've also set myself a personal challenge to ride 5,000 km over the year and am nearly there," he said.

"It’s important for anyone going through this to know that life doesn’t have to stop. It might pause for a while, but you can carry on and have a new lease of life," he said.

"If you don’t know how to do CPR, I would encourage you to learn as your New Year’s resolution, as this really can happen to anyone. But you can survive, and you can help to save a life.”

Cardiac arrests such as Mark’s make up almost a quarter of EAAA’s caseload, with 80% of cardiac arrests happening in the home.

EAAA provides life-saving critical care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Between its two teams, it attends almost 3,000 accidents and medical emergencies each year. A donation of £42 to the Gift of Life campaign could help to buy a breathing mask, like the one used to treat Mark during his cardiac arrest, and help EAAA to save more lives.

For more details on how you can support EAAA this Christmas, visit the charity's website.  

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