‘I was on autopilot’: Queen’s Hospital lead nurse saves life of motorist suffering heart attack on day off

Lead nurse for emergency care and acute medicine at BHRUT Jack Stevens. Picture: BHRUT

Lead nurse for emergency care and acute medicine at BHRUT Jack Stevens. Picture: BHRUT - Credit: Archant

A nurse at the Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS hospital trust put his expertise to good use earlier this month when he saved the life of a man who had a heart attack at the wheel of his car in Brentwood.

It was a real case of being in the right place at the right time for Jack Stevens, lead nurse for emergency care and acute medicine at BHRUT, when he saved the life of a fellow motorist on Wednesday, September 4.

The 37-year-old, who was on a day off, was driving on country lanes between Brentwood and Ongar after dropping his mum off at Sainsbury's when a car came towards him, driven erratically, before coming to a stop.

He said: "As soon as I saw the driver I could see he didn't look well.

"A young woman was also passing and we both ran to the car.

"I got there first and was able to confirm he was having a cardiac arrest, so I knew he needed CPR.

"I pulled him from the car while she called an ambulance - it was totally unexpected and there I was in my flip flops!

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"A white van driver also stopped and the three of us worked together to give him CPR - luckily I had some medical equipment, a bag valve mask, in the car which also helped.

"The police officers were great too, the first police car on scene didn't have a defibrillator, so they sent another one which did. I knew this would give the patient a better chance of survival.

"I went into auto-pilot at the time, especially as I am an advanced life support instructor, however, there was a bit of 'did that really happen?' afterwards before it sank in."

Jack continued to keep the man, in his 50s, alive until the paramedics and then the air ambulance arrived.

n another twist of fate, the patient, who is recovering, was taken to Queen's Hospital, one of the hospitals run by the Trust where Jack works.

He visited him the following day, and also met his grateful family.

Jack added: "The main things for me was the help and support from young woman who stopped, she was phenomenal.

"She did everything I asked and was a great help, as was the white van driver who also stopped.

"An elderly lady who was a retired doctor even came over and offered to help, which really shows how the community can pull together.

"It's great to hear that the patient is recovering, and it shows how important CPR skills are, as well as availability of defibrillators.

"It was unlikely that he would have survived without our intervention."

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