When newly-weds Adam and Kim Richardson sat down to enjoy a romantic meal, they had no idea their lives were about to be turned upsidedown.
Months later, they met the team who saved Adam’s life, after a life-threatening medical episode which could have cost him his life.
The Eastbourne couple, who had recently returned from their wedding in Cyprus, had barely had time to look through the menu of the Wingrove Inn in Alfriston when Kim, who was heavily pregnant, remembers Adam asking her to hold his hand.
Just seconds later he had collapsed and stopped breathing.
“Just moments after I held his hand, Adam fell onto me, sitting at the table,” said Kim.
“It all happened so quickly. He had been painting all day and I initially thought he had fainted but then I realised he wasn’t breathing and that we needed to do CPR. A member of the public asked if he could help me and we began CPR and it was only a few minutes before Colin was there.”
On arrival, community first responder and former paramedic, Colin Burden was quick to administer a shock to Adam’s heart with his defibrillator. He was soon backed up at the scene by paramedic David Hopkins shortly before colleagues Andy Parker, who responded off duty from home and Samantha West and Deborah Burt joined them to assist in what ended up being a protracted resuscitation attempt.
Colin said, “It was such a long resus attempt. At first Adam responded well to the shock but then he began to slip away again. We all worked together to ensure he was given the best possible chance of survival and it was of course important we were on scene so quickly.”
Fellow paramedic Andy said, “There was a massive amount of teamwork involved. Adam was without a pulse for almost an hour. It was very tricky and we really worked hard to treat him with every means we had available to us.
“This included me calling our medical director from the scene to get permission to provide certain drugs which might help him. We just weren’t going to give up.”
Adam was shocked a total of five times before he was stable enough for the team to consider transporting him to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Kim said, “I just remember the ambulance team saying time and time again, ‘no pulse, shock again, continue CPR’.
“A few times I did think, ‘why are we still here and not on our way to hospital?’ but now I know they had to stabilise him first.
“I was just dreading them saying that there was nothing more they could do and in my mind saying to myself ‘please don’t stop’. But they just didn’t give up and I can never express quite how grateful I am for everything they did. They were so skilled. It’s so nice to be meeting everyone again.”
Adam who turned out to have a leaking heart valve, probably from birth, has undergone an amazing recovery in the past year. After having an internal defibrillator fitted during his three-week stay in hospital, he went on to have open-heart surgery in February, a day after his 41st birthday. Now he has returned to working in interior design and is enjoying the family life with children Eden, two and Beatrix, nine months.
“It’s all very surreal and weird,” said Adam. “Meeting the team was quite emotional. They saved my life. Without them I simply wouldn’t be here.
“Until something like this happens I think most people wouldn’t realise how much is involved in the treatment the ambulance service can provide. They’re unbelievable.”