An off-duty 999 call supervisor at London Ambulance Service saved her dad’s life when he collapsed in cardiac arrest at home.
Estelle Williams was asleep after a night shift but woke when she heard her mum screaming at their home in east London. Estelle rushed to their room and found her dad Eddie had collapsed while watching TV.
Estelle noticed he was gasping, which is known as agonal breathing, and then he stopped breathing and changed colour.
Estelle said: “I knew he was dead. I called for an ambulance and then with my sister, I got him on the floor and immediately started giving him chest compressions.
“I have instructed people over the phone on how to give CPR so I knew what I was doing, but you never imagine you would ever need that knowledge to save your own dad.”
All call handlers get training in how to do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and use a defibrillator and regularly instruct members of the public in these life-saving skills.
The training kicked in automatically for Estelle which meant she was able to keep Eddie’s heart pumping oxygen to the brain, while the family waited for an ambulance.
Paramedic Bethany Grace was the first paramedic to arrive on the scene and she asked Estelle to keep giving Eddie chest compressions while she prepared the defibrillator, which gives an electric shock which can get the heart beating again.
Bethany said: “Estelle’s quick recognition of her dad’s critical condition allowed her to start chest compressions to an excellent standard.
“Arriving to see compressions performed correctly gave instant hope for Eddie. I was able to quickly apply the defibrillator and shock Eddie early.
“These key components in the chain of survival are essential. It’s extremely rare for a patient to be so unwell and then talking moments later as Eddie was, and this is down to effective CPR and an early shock from the defibrillator.”
Eddie celebrated his 72nd birthday this week and his daughter surprised him again with a party at the 999 control room where she works. She invited the whole team involved in Eddie’s care.
Eddie said: “I don’t remember what happened at all but I am thankful to my daughter for saving my life. I am grateful to meet all the angels at London Ambulance Service for helping to save my life.
“But my daughter – well I’ve told her, everything in my will is hers!”
Paramedic Abi Williams said: “We rarely get to meet a patient after we have treated them so to celebrate Eddie’s birthday with him and see him doing so well is lovely.
“Everyone should learn these skills because you never know whose life you could save.”
Eddie spent a week in the hospital recovering after his cardiac arrest and has been fitted with an implantable defibrillator.
Estelle added: “My dad is such an important figure in my family’s life, and I am so grateful to all the team at London Ambulance Service for saving his life so effectively so we can spend many more years with him, and celebrate life.”
London Ambulance Service is running a London Lifesavers campaign which encourages everyone to learn simple life-saving skills.
It can take just a matter of minutes to learn these skills but could make the difference between life and death for a person in cardiac arrest.
You can learn how to save a life here.