AN off-duty Glangwili Hospital porter and intensive care nurse saved the life of their neighbour by using CPR and a community based defibrillator in Cwmdwyfran.
Eifion George, aged 71, was at home when he collapsed and his heart stopped.
Neighbours rallied around and intensive care nurse Rachel Baxter quickly established that he had stopped breathing and needed urgent resuscitation.
Rachel and Arfon, porter at Glanwgili Hospital, started CPR. Rachel’s partner Carwyn raced to Cwmdwyfran Vestry to get the community defibrillator, funded by Bronwydd Community Hall.
But by the time the ambulance and air ambulance arrived, Eifion was back breathing normally.
Rachel, aged 27, said: “I was a bit out of my comfort zone as in intensive care, I have my monitors and all the equipment that I need, but I think in a situation like that adrenalin kicks in and you have to save a life. That’s what Arfon and I were doing.”
Arfon, aged 61, has had some basic life-saving training as part of working as a porter and being part of the team who attend to a hospital in a cardiac arrest situation.
“I’ve been fortunate to have some training, but I think whoever you are, in a situation like that you just have to do something to help.
“Something I was reassured by is that the defibrillator we were using was able to tell us when to shock and would also tell us if we were doing good compressions or if we needed to compress harder. This gave us confidence,” he said.
“Also, if you don’t have training, the 999 operators will also talk you through what you need to do.”
Remarkably, Eifion has been saved by CPR previously when his heart stopped whilst he was refereeing youth football some 15 years ago.
The retired computer manager explained: “My heart stopped before, and I had a long road to recovery. I can’t thank Arfon and Rachel enough, and the rest of the community who helped, as well as emergency services and hospital staff. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”
Eifion’s family, his wife Janis, son Dafydd and daughter Nerys, also wished to thank the Bronwydd Community Hall for funding a defibrillator in Cwmdwyfran, and a second one situated in Bronwydd Hall.
County Councillor Irfon Jones, and hall committee member, said: “Defibrillators are so important in the community and the hall committee is now purchasing another two to place in the square in Bronwydd and Pentre Morgan.”
Consultant Cardiologist and Glangwili Hospital Director Dr Eiry Edmunds praised the staff involved and the community.
“Survival rates when someone is in cardiac arrest out of the hospital environment are really low,” she said.
“Early CPR and access to a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death, as was the case with Eifion.”
If you want to learn more about what to do if someone needs CPR, you can access online resources from the Resuscitation Council’s website: https://www.resus.org.uk/apps/lifesaver/
You can view where your nearest community defibrillator is, or log the location of one, at NHS Direct Wales: https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/localservices/default.aspx?s=DefibrillatorLocations