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Ambulance worker thanks patient and nurse who gave him 'another chance in life' after cardiac arrest

The man was ready to take a 72-year-old amputee who uses a wheelchair to hospital when he collapsed.

Ambulance worker thanks patient and nurse who gave him 'another chance in life' after cardiac arrest
Representational Cover Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk

When an ambulance worker was called to help a 72-year-old amputee who uses a wheelchair, he did not expect to be the one who would need help. Shaun McBride was ready to take Tommy Stewart from Glen O'Dee Hospital in Banchory to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, but things quickly took an unexpected turn when the ambulance worker collapsed after a cardiac arrest. Stewart was strapped into the vehicle but still managed to call for help. Nurse Freya Smith-Nicol rushed in to perform CPR till an ambulance made it to the scene.

Representational Image Source: Pexels | Allen Beilschmidt sr.
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Allen Beilschmidt sr.

"I heard a thump and I just saw the top of Shaun's head," Stewart recalled to BBC. The care assistant with the ambulance patient transport service had fallen just as he secured Stewart into his vehicle. "I said: 'He's collapsed.' But there was no way I could reach the horn because I was strapped in. So the next thing was: roar." Fortunately, a hospital caterer ran out to see what was going on, thanks to Stewart's cries for help. Nurse Freya Smith-Nicol, 28, was called to the scene and realized there was "a lot of panic in the air. I knew immediately something was wrong. I thought it was going to be one of our patients because you put two and two together and obviously didn't expect to see Shaun there. It was quite a big shock. He was unconscious on the ramp of the ambulance." 

For 25 minutes, she performed CPR while helped by other members of the team until an ambulance arrived. "The ambulance crew turned up just as we kind of got him back, so it was all timed quite well," she said. McBride was placed in an induced coma in intensive care as soon as he arrived at the hospital. 

Representational Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

After using a defibrillator on him seven times, they managed to quite literally bring him back to life. The former firefighter has no recollection of what happened that day but is grateful to live another day. McBride, 56, thanked the duo for giving him "another chance in life." The three recently reunited two months after the incident at the small community hospital in Aberdeenshire. "If it wasn't for Tommy raising the alarm and the quick actions of Freya and the team - well, I wouldn't be sitting here today," he said. Turning to them, he added, "Thank you for giving me another chance in life. My gratitude is there forever. Live for today because you never know what tomorrow might bring."


Nurse Smith-Nicol assured that it had been a team effort to help the ambulance worker get back on track. "When we found out Shaun had come off the ventilator, was awake and was having a cup of tea with his wife, it was amazing to hear," she said. "There was such a sense of relief. It was quite emotional." She and Shaun later bumped into each other at a wedding and even shared a dance. Stewart remains modest about his actions. "I didn't think I did anything but shout," he said. "Freya did the best bit and the rest of the nurses helped. He couldn't have picked a better place to collapse if he tried. It could have been worse, a lot worse."

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