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Heart attack survivor praises air ambulance

Derek Carruthers, his wife Bridget Carruthers and Terry Sharpe Photo: GNAAS

A heart attack survivor has shared his story, thanking emergency services, after he was flown to the hospital.

64-year-old Derrek Carruthers, from Kirkoswald, was playing golf in Penrith when he had the heart attack in May 2013.

I had played five holes of golf when I started to feel a pain in my chest. I played two more holes and it got worse so I went for a sit down.

One of the guys I was with had suffered a heart attack before and recognised the symptoms straight away.

The club house called the emergency services. It all happened very fast. A rapid response paramedic arrived within 10 minutes and called for the air ambulance which arrived shortly after.

– Derek Carruthers
The ambulance helicopter the day of Derek's heart attack Credit: GNAAS

The retired sales executive, who was then taking part in Penrith Golf CLub's Inglewood Cup, describes the pain as “someone sticking a corkscrew in your chest and turning it tighter.”

The grandfather of one was flown to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough for surgery.

After initial treatment by the GNAAS team, I was taken to hospital where surgeon, Mr Swanson, and his team removed a clot from an artery on the surface of my heart and installed two stents. Less than an hour later, I was fine and recovering. The turnaround was remarkable.

I know I’ve been very lucky. If everyone hadn’t reacted so promptly, I might not be here. It sounds dramatic but it’s true.

– Derek Carruthers

David Carruthers and his 66-year-old wife, Bridget, visited Great North Air Ambulance's Langwathby airbase to thanks the air crew, including paramedic Terry Sharpe, who assisted him.

Derek Carruthers and Terry Sharpe Credit: GNAAS

Derek’s incident is a textbook case of everyone working together to give a patient the best possible chance of recovery. Without bystanders, the rapid response paramedic and air ambulance all working swiftly, the outcome may have been different.

– Terry Sharpe, Paramedic

Mr Carruthers has remained active, plays golf, skies and attends the gym twice a week. He also works as a support driver on charity rides from London to Paris with Maximum Adventure and Rather Be Cycling.

I haven’t smoked, don’t drink a lot and I like to keep fit but it can still happen. I now wear a heart monitor and I’ve been advised not to let my heart exert 100 beats per minute.

You have to seize the moment. I am so thankful I can still do all the things I enjoy.

– Derek Carruthers

The Great North Air Ambulance Service is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary of becoming an independent registered charity.