Off-duty nurse performs CPR and saves man's life at Woodbridge pub

Will Fiske, from Framlingham, with nurse Debbie Lavender, who helped save his life.

Will Fiske, from Framlingham, with nurse Debbie Lavender, who helped save his life. - Credit: EAAA

A young man is back playing football thanks to an off-duty nurse who helped save his life after he suffered a cardiac arrest at a pub in Woodbridge.

Debbie Lavender works as a critical care nurse at West Suffolk Hospital, but had never needed to deliver CPR outside her workplace until last year — when she helped save a man's life. 

The 31-year-old, who lives in Woodbridge, was out for dinner with her partner Grant at The Maybush in Waldringfield on July 18 last year, when she realised someone was in trouble outside.

Dr Natalie Lonsdale and Debbie Lavender, when she received her award.

Dr Natalie Lonsdale and Debbie Lavender, when she received her award. - Credit: EAAA

She noticed Will Fiske, from Framlingham, lying on the floor with people huddled around him, and another person began CPR. 

Miss Lavender asked the waiter if they needed help, and was taken down to assist Mr Fiske, who was having a cardiac arrest.


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She took over CPR and used the defibrillator, giving him three rounds and three shocks, successfully regaining his pulse until paramedics took over. 

An East Anglian Air Ambulance team of Doctor Natalie Lonsdale, critical care paramedic Luke Chamberlain and pilots Matthew Sandbach and Dan Mansell were tasked to the scene to provide advanced life support.

Linda Fiske, Laura Bastable-Aradia, Will Fiske, Doctor Natalie Lonsdale, Debbie Lavender, and Grant Cooper.

Linda Fiske, Laura Bastable-Aradia, Will Fiske, Doctor Natalie Lonsdale, Debbie Lavender, and Grant Cooper. - Credit: EAAA

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Mr Fiske survived, and Miss Lavender has now received an award from the Royal Humane Society, after being nominated by the East Anglian Air Ambulance, for the part she played. 

"It was a really scary experience," explained Miss Lavender, who has worked in critical care for more than three years. 

"I've been involved with cardiac arrests at work, but as I was not in a work setting I was not equipped. It's so different without the team around you.

"Once I told people I was a nurse they were relying on me to take the lead, and they assume you've done it thousands of times, but it's so different when you're not in the hospital."

Dr Natalie Lonsdale praised Miss Lavender’s quick response in starting the chain of survival, chest compressions and a defibrillator. 

Debbie has been praised for the role she played in saving the young man's life.

Debbie has been praised for the role she played in saving the young man's life. Here she is pictured (right) with Lisa Boyle, EAAA Aftercare Nurse. - Credit: EAAA

Miss Lavender said she still feels like she was "just doing her job", and said it was amazing news to know Mr Fiske had fully recovered. 

Today he is fit, well, playing five-aside football and enjoying life with his partner Laura and her two daughters. 

"I know that the outcome of cardiac arrests outside of hospital can be quite poor," she said.

"So it's amazing news."

The Royal Humane Society presented Miss Lavender the Resuscitation Certificate for ‘restoring a man to life’ in Cambridge on Friday, where she got to see Mr Fiske for the first time. 

She said she feels "really proud" to be given the accolade, as not many people are awarded them.

Debbie inside the air ambulance.

Debbie inside the air ambulance with Critical Care Paramedic Andy Bates. - Credit: EAAA

Miss Lavender became a nurse in the critical care unit after witnessing first hand the care her nan received while in hospital a few years ago.

After graduating with a degree in psychology, she trained to become a nurse after noticing what a "rewarding" job it could be.

She grew up in Ipswich, and her mum Mandy said she was a "miracle" baby as she was born 15 weeks early and weighed just over 1lb 15oz.

Her mum was told at the time that if she did survive her quality of life would be "very poor", but she has proved all the medics wrong and has gone on to be a huge success. 

"I've always been very stubborn," said Miss Lavender.

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