Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Nottingham

Former firefighter reunited with ambulance team who saved his life after cardiac arrest

A retired Nottinghamshire firefighter who went into cardiac arrest while he lay in bed has been reunited with the emergency team who saved his life.

In the early hours of the morning on 30 May 2022, Robert Fensom, from Hucknall would usually get out of bed to take his dog out for a walk.

But on this occasion, he wasn’t stirring. Sue Fensom, his wife of 40 years, thinking this was very odd, went to try and wake him only to make the frightening discovery that he was unresponsive, and his breathing was shallow.

Robert said: “I don’t remember anything from a few days leading up to what happened.

“I don’t even have any recollection of watching the Nottingham Forest Football game the day before, which as an avid fan of the club is not something I would normally forget attending.”

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Someone who does remember everything so vividly is his wife, Sue.

She said: “Robert normally gets up at around 5.30am to take the dog out for a morning stroll at the nearby park, but on this particular morning he was just lying there, and I could hear him making strange gurgling noises.

“The sounds coming from Robert were something I had never heard before and I started to become scared.

“I decided to roll him over and that is when I could see Robert’s face. One of his eyes was bulging open and it was just blankly staring at me, with the other eye closed shut.

“I shook him really hard and yelled at him but was getting no response from him.”

Sue decided that Robert needed emergency help and fast, so dialled 999.

The call was answered by Emergency Medical Advisor Chloe Irving. Based on the information Sue was able to provide Chloe, it was identified that Robert was in cardiac arrest.

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Chloe Irving

Chloe said: “I started to instruct Sue that she needed to start doing chest compressions on Robert as soon as possible.

“Sue was initially having some difficulties as she explained that her husband was on the bed when we needed him to be on a hard and flat surface for Sue to be able to commence effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

“Sue was concerned about hurting Robert as she would need to push him off the bed, but I reassured her we needed to help him immediately and not to worry about the fall.

“Despite this being a very scary and distressing experience for Sue, she listened to my instructions which will have no doubt given Robert a fighting chance until the ambulance crew arrived.”

Sue had never needed to do CPR until that morning and admits to not knowing what it was or how it was needed to be performed before then.

She added: “The lady on the other end of the phone instigated me to start doing what Robert needed me to do, which I believe has played a massive part in him still being with us today.”

Paramedic Rob Keenan was first on scene in his fast response vehicle. He immediately took over CPR from Sue.

Rob said: “I identified that Robert’s heart was in a shockable rhythm, so I began with a resuscitation attempt and used a defibrillator, which managed to get his heart beating again.

Rob Keenan
Rob Keenan

“Sue commencing chest compressions as soon as Chloe told her to do saved her husband’s life.”

Minutes later, Rob received back up from Ed Cannon, Paramedic and Duty Commander, and an ambulance crew teamed by Paramedic Ellen Beer and Technician Rosie Blyton-Flewitt. The Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance was also in attendance and was crewed by Dr Tim Smith and Paramedic Karl Bexon, and Robert was taken in the ambulance to Queen’s Medical Centre for further treatment.

Robert added: “I was fitted with a pacemaker which sends electrical pulses to my heart to keep it beating regularly without me even noticing.

“I’m grateful to still be alive, with no life-changing impacts, meaning I can continue to keep fit and active which is what I love to do.”

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