Woman praises the pilot and paramedic who saved her life after she went into cardiac arrest

Julia Richardson and her daughter Kimberley Frazer with the team that saved her life at GNAAS base in Langwathby, Penrith. Credit: Great North Air Ambulance Service.

A woman from Alston who went into cardiac arrest and suffered a stroke has been reunited with the air ambulance pilot and paramedic who helped save her life.

Julia Richardson, 52, was at home with her partner and son in May 2023 when she started experiencing chest pains.

Not long after, Mrs Richardson went into cardiac arrest.

CPR and defibrillation were given to Mrs Richardson while the assistance of the critical care team from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was requested, as the location was quite remote.

They had just airlifted an injured motorcyclist to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and after restocking their blood supply at the hospital, they flew to Alston.

She was flown from her home to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle in just 12 minutes while her family drove to the hospital.

Her daughter, Kimberley Frazer said: “Theo, the doctor from GNAAS, met us in A&E and he was really good and gave us an update on what he’d done and what was happening and kept us in the loop.”

"Looking back, I don't think we understood the severity of the situation going forward.

“I remember saying to my husband, Nathan, I'm not leaving until she sat up talking to us.

"But once we were allowed to go in and see her the doctor spoke with us, and we were told to prepare ourselves for the next several months.

Mrs Richardson remained in a coma for ten days and stayed in hospital for just over three weeks before returning home and has been receiving support from a range of specialists including physiotherapists, psychologists and neuropsychologists.

She said: “They helped me start walking straight away, improved my balance and supported me being outside on my own.

"I was in an exercise group in Penrith with stroke patients for seven months beforebeing discharged from the stroke team.

“They’re also supporting me going back to work and eventually going back to driving.”

Mrs Richardson’s workplace Grisedale Court have been raising money for GNAAS Credit: Great North Air Ambulance Service

Since the incident, Mrs Richardson’s workplace Grisedale Court have held a fundraising event for GNAAS, and she also set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook which collectively raised £649 for the charity.

In addition to this, she recently reunited with the pilot and paramedic from GNAAS who helped her and was given a tour of the charity’s base in Langwathby, Penrith, Mrs Richardson said: “I must admit I was a bit nervous coming to the base because I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m glad I have met the team.

“I didn’t realise they delivered pre-hospital care - I thought GNAAS were there to get you from a to b quicker, but actually they have a critical care team on board, including a doctor who can treat you.

Mrs Frazer added: “Alston is such a small community and everyone knows Mam so I think it’s given people a shock that it can happen to anyone.

“Until you’ve used GNAAS in a situation like this, you don’t have the same appreciation for them at all.”

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