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Nurse’s cardiac arrest inspires community’s quest for defibrillators

A MUM-of-two who survived a cardiac arrest thanks to her paramedic husband’s quick-thinking intervention has inspired a community’s quest for extra defibrillators.

Nurse Cerys Wilkins, 48, collapsed without warning at her Pentrebach home in October.

Husband Phil, an off-duty paramedic, gave chest compressions and rescue breaths to his wife of 20 years before his Welsh Ambulance Service colleagues arrived and delivered a shock to Cerys with a defibrillator which re-started her heart.

With support from the local council, Welsh Ambulance Service, family and friends, and fundraising organised by niece Kayleigh Williams, new defibrillators will soon be available in Cerys’ community.

Cerys said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the community’s support and generosity, and my thanks goes to everyone who has helped to fund four new defibrillators, one of which is already in place.

“I’m so pleased we could be part of new defibrillators being available to whoever needs them.

“My niece Kayleigh has been amazing and I can never thank her enough.

“Thankfully I’m one of the lucky ones now on the road to recovery after a challenging few months.”

Phil, a paramedic of 16 years based in Merthyr Tydfil, added: “Emotions have been high for all of us since Cerys’ cardiac arrest and we’re only now getting to grips with what happened.

“More defibrillators in the community is one good thing to come from this life-changing event, and the important thing now is that people know they exist because in a cardiac arrest scenario, they could literally mean the difference between life and death.”

When someone has a cardiac arrest, they collapse and become unresponsive.

They either stop breathing entirely, or they may take gasping or infrequent breaths for a few minutes.

If you see someone having a cardiac arrest, phone 999 immediately and start CPR.

A defibrillator will deliver a controlled electric shock to try and get the heart beating normally again, and ambulance call handlers will tell you where your nearest is located.

The new defibrillators have been funded by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and the Welsh Ambulance Service, while funds raised by Cerys’ niece Kayleigh will ensure the devices can be wall mounted and kept secure.

Two of the four defibrillators will take pride of place in Pentrebach where Cerys, Phil and the couple’s two children Ella, 18, and Coel, 16, live.

A third will be positioned in Troedyrhiw, where Cerys grew up, and the fourth in nearby Abercanaid.

Cerys was fitted with an implantable defibrillator following her cardiac arrest and continues to be monitored by the hospital.

Phil, 50, said: “I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who’s supported us through this difficult time, from the council and the ambulance service for funding these new machines, to our niece Kayleigh for helping to raise funds, to the complete strangers who’ve offered us kind words in the street.

“It really has been a community effort, and if the defibrillators save just one life, then it’s mission accomplished as far as we’re concerned.”

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