A Diss funeral home staff member whose heart suddenly stopped six months ago says he has a new appreciation for the emergency services, after at last meeting his saviours this week.
Robert Long, 73, a Harleston resident, had been at work at Rosedale Funeral Home in Victoria Road on September 4 last year, when without warning he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. It was only through the intervention of Mr Long’s colleagues, who performed CPR, that the medics, who were on the scene within minutes, were able to restart his heart and resuscitate him.
I have more respect for these people. It really makes you thinkRobert Long
Mr Long, who has been with the home for ten years, finally met staff from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) on Wednesday, to thank them for helping save his life.
“I have more respect for these people. It really makes you think,” he said.
“I remember nothing. I had been to the doctors and they said a valve was not as it should be, but he just said ‘be careful what you eat’ and that was it.”
Nigel Skipper, a Rosedale funeral operative, explained Mr Long was preparing for a funeral that day, and had simply stopped for a cup of tea.
“The next thing we knew, he went back against the wall and his eyes were gone. It’s not like you see on TV. There was not an inkling it was going to happen,” Mr Skipper said.
Mr Skipper and colleague Chris Brett carried out chest compressions, working so hard Mr Long inadvertently sustained cracked ribs, while general manager Richard Green phoned for an ambulance and relayed instructions from the call handler.
Although first responder Steve Hammond arrived in just six minutes, Mr Skipper claimed it “seemed like forever”.
“Our instincts just kicked in. We lost all sense of time.
He added: “I really thought we had lost him.”
Tanya Chenery, another EEAST paramedic who tended to Mr Long, said this case emphasised the importance of first aid training, as the CPR gave his heart a ‘shockable rhythm’, which improved his chances once the defibrillator was deployed.
“The fact that he is standing here now is a testament to that,” she said.
“Because of his colleagues’ intervention, he made a brilliant recovery.”
She also said that in seven years on the job, this was only the second time she had responded to a cardiac arrest call where the person had actually survived.
Mr Green, funeral director at Rosedale, praised the medical team for their work, while Mr Skipper described it as “an absolutely brilliant service”.
Mr Green added: “Since the incident, we have made it compulsory for new staff to go on a first aid course. Being involved in this situation has made a huge difference to how I look at things.”