A man who collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest while out running in has been reunited with the ambulance crew who saved his life.
Willem Pretorius, 42, collapsed outside the Rising Sun pub in Pondtail Road, Horsham, West Sussex, on the afternoon of 26 March 2017. A number of people at the scene were quick to come to his aid including his now good friends, Gavin and Sam Hockley, who joined Willem when he visited the ambulance team at South East Coast Ambulance Service’s (SECAmb) Gatwick Make Ready Centre recently.
And now, Willem, who completed the British 10K in London earlier this month, will be joined by some of the ambulance team as he participates in the Run Reigate 10K on 16 September.
Three SECAmb crews came to Willem’s aid following his collapse after the alarm was raised and the 999 call handled by Emergency Medical Advisor Megan Beecham.
First to arrive was Ambulance Technician Steff Davies and crew mate Paramedic Adrian Longhurst. The pair, who were on scene in just three minutes, quickly set about providing CPR and shock to restart Willem’s heart after he deteriorated quickly following the initial 999 call.
Steff and Adrian were joined by Paramedic Karen Bell and Emergency Care Support Worker Mark Lucas before Critical Care Paramedic Karen Clarke and Paramedic Frida Haeggman competed the team.
The team then set about readying Willem for the journey to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton for specialist assessment and treatment – the whole period, from the time of the 999 call to Willem’s arrival at hospital, taking well under an hour.
At hospital Willem had a stent fitted to clear the blockage that caused the cardiac arrest before being discharged 16 days later.
Steff said: “It’s been great to meet with Willem and see him looking so well. It was a real team effort and I’m proud to have played my part.”
Willem, who hopes to return to his work in IT in the future, said: “Every one of the ambulance team are my heroes. I’ve always been a very positive person and this has only reinforced that for me.
“That said, the last year hasn’t been easy and I’m still managing the effects of an injury to my brain. But I’ve been told that my heart is now in a really good condition albeit I have a fair few medicines to take.
“I’ve made some good friends including Sam and Gavin through this and I’m so grateful for everything everyone did for me. It’ll be great to do the 10K with some of the team. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Critical Care Paramedic Karen Clarke added: “When I arrived, Steff and everyone else had done a great job in resuscitating Willem. We then worked closely together get him ready for hospital. It was a textbook job from start to finish. It’s been a pleasure to meet with Willem in better circumstances and I wish him all the very best for the future.”