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23 May 2019

Police officer meets 20 lifesavers

Ben Perrin event

A police officer has been reunited with more than 20 people, including University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust staff, who were involved in saving his life when his heart stopped twice.

Avon and Somerset Police Constable, Ben Perrin, had a sudden cardiac arrest at Chipping Sodbury Police Station near Bristol on the evening of 17 March after attending a police incident.

Ben, then 43, had reported feeling unwell, before colleagues found him unconscious and not breathing.

They called 999, did chest compressions, and shocked him several times with a defibrillator in an effort to get his heart beating again.

To listen to the 999 call made by Ben's colleague, Ryan, click here

In hospital Ben had a severe pulmonary haemorrhage and a second cardiac arrest. He was not expected to survive the night.

However, he remained alive, and has gone on to make an extraordinary recovery.

Ben made a special visit to the force's headquarters in Portishead on Tuesday 21 May to meet and thank some of the estimated 100 hospital, ambulance, air ambulance and police staff who were directly involved in treating him.

Ben, who has no memory of the incident, said: "I feel like I'm the luckiest man on earth. I shouldn't be here; I should have died.

"I'm very grateful for all the care I received from everyone including my colleagues.  

"If you find someone unconscious and not breathing, stay calm and call 999 for an ambulance. And try CPR because you can't make the situation any worse."

PC Nathan Sollis, who gave the initial CPR to his colleague and close friend, said: "The adrenaline took over, and we got on with it until the ambulance crews took over.

"We were told he wasn't going to recover. It was difficult to comprehend what had happened to a very good friend. But he managed to pull through; Ben's a miracle man!"

SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Sigourney Keyte, guided the caller, PC Ryan Thomas, through the basic life support procedure. Meanwhile PC Nathan Sollis did CPR and used the defibrillator, with support from PC Katie Etherton.

A large team of responders - including paramedic land crews, specialist cardiac arrest support tier (CAST) paramedics, and a critical care team from Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) - provided advanced life support in a continued effort to resuscitate Ben.

The critical care team used a mechanical CPR device to administer automated chest compressions on Ben. They also gave him another two shocks with a defibrillator.

Ben was transported to the Bristol Royal Infirmary by ambulance in a critical condition. Paramedics managed to restart his heart in the ambulance before they reached the hospital.

But during heart surgery the significant bleed occurred, and Ben's heart stopped again.

Hospital staff were able to get his heart beating for itself again. They restored his oxygen levels and his condition improved. 

After being in an induced coma for several weeks, he was released home on Good Friday.

Dr Sanjoy Shah, Clinical Chair of the Division of Surgery at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Ben suffered a cardiac arrest and was critically ill.

"His survival is a testament to the team work of the SWASFT team and the Bristol Royal Infirmary emergency department, cardiac catheter labs and intensive care unit teams. With excellent care and a huge amount of hard work and determination from the staff, Ben, his family and his police colleagues, he has made a brilliant recovery.

"We're thrilled with Ben's recovery and wish him all the best for the future."

Rhys Griffiths, SWASFT Operations Officer, who was one of the first ambulance responders to the incident, said:

"Ben is a success story where early intervention from his colleagues no doubt saved his life. Without their rapid actions, Ben's story may have been different. Police staff laid a great foundation for SWASFT to continue resuscitation and utilise our advanced treatment. They deserve much praise for their swift actions on the night of his cardiac arrest.

"This was an ultimate team effort from police, hospital staff, air ambulance and ambulance staff. We all train and educate ourselves to a high level, and it is always an incredible feeling to be involved in making such a huge difference for a patient."