As students at Turton High School in Bolton, Lancashire, UK were attending classes on a September morning, Nigel Bartlett, a site foreman for Kier Construction, worked on an expansion building on campus. “I was working at height,” he says, “stripping scaffolding down on the site.”
When Nigel, 55, climbed down from the scaffolding to pick up a delivery, the only indication that anything might be amiss was a pain in his shoulder that he’d had for a while. But as he headed toward the parking lot, Nigel suddenly collapsed.
Luckily, the school’s facilities manager, Andy Morris, happened to be working nearby and responded right away. A former paramedic, Andy quickly recognized that Nigel was suffering sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). He sent the school’s caretaker, Barrie Kelly, to retrieve an AED (automated external defibrillator) that was located nearby and Andy immediately started performing CPR, assisted by the delivery driver, Derek Miller.
“Without [an AED], I wouldn’t be here now.”– Nigel Bartlett, SCA survivor
“I realized he had arrested just by the way he looked,” Andy says, “and I knew we needed the AED urgently.”
A lifesaving shock
When Barrie arrived with the ZOLL® AED Plus defibrillator, Andy quickly attached the pads to Nigel. “A shock was indicated, so I gave one shock and his heart started again. The ambulance arrived shortly after, by which time he was a better colour and breathing on his own.”
Nigel has little memory of the incident. “I first came to in the ambulance,” he says. “I remember saying, ‘What’s going on?’ Next time I came round I was in hospital in Manchester having two stents put in my arm.”
Nigel adds, “I [was] working on the scaffolding half an hour before the SCA. The situation could have been so much worse if I had been on the scaffolding.”
He is grateful to Andy, Derek, Barrie, and the emergency team, all of whom responded quickly enough to save his life. He is also grateful to the school for having an AED device available. “Without [an AED], I wouldn’t be here now,” Nigel acknowledges.
“Get the AED on quickly, even if you’re not sure [it’s needed].”– Andy Morris, SCA survivor
Andy is proud to have played a pivotal role in saving Nigel’s life: “I’m glad to see him alive and well!”
To potential rescuers who might someday find themselves facing an SCA emergency, Andy advises, “Get the AED on quickly, even if you’re not sure [it’s needed]. It won’t shock if not required; it tells you what to do. You can’t cause any damage.”
A familiar experience
He adds, “It’s comforting to see the ever-growing placement of AEDs and the heightened awareness of the importance of CPR training.”
Dr. Hawbaker agrees. “Basic CPR can and does save people’s lives, and it did so in this situation,” he notes. “Being willing to help someone who’s in trouble can really make a difference.”
In fact, Larry himself received his third CPR/AED certification renewal just two weeks prior to his SCA. Coincidence? “Maybe karma is a real thing,” he replies.
Coincidentally, Andy shares a personal perspective with Nigel, having suffered SCA himself several years earlier. “My wife performed CPR until the paramedic arrived to shock me,” he says, adding, “My advice is to go on living – do the things you have always wanted to do now that you’ve been given a second chance.”
Nigel donates an AED Plus to Hawthorn Primary School.
Nigel agrees, noting that the experience has taught him the value of living life to the fullest. “I have started swimming and exercising three times a week, and I am able to do more with my 9-year-old granddaughter now. I am also looking forward to going back to work.”
To others who have suffered SCA, Nigel also offers these words: “You just have to deal with the fact that this has happened to you – accept it and get on with life. When I was in hospital, I realized that this wasn’t just me affected. It was the rescuers, my family, and the people on site – I was phoning them up from the hospital to see if they were okay too!”
In keeping with Nigel’s concern for others, his employer, Kier Construction, recently donated a second AED to Turton School – with the hope that they will never need to use it!