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Nurse saves cardiac arrest man at Norwich Bus Station

PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 December 2011 | UPDATED: 14:17 22 December 2011

Brian Spall thanks the nurse who saved his life, Laura Dickerson, who came to the rescue when he had a cardiac arrest at Norwich bus station. Photo by Simon Finlay

Brian Spall thanks the nurse who saved his life, Laura Dickerson, who came to the rescue when he had a cardiac arrest at Norwich bus station. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

A grandfather-of-two has told how he and his family are counting their blessings this Christmas after a nurse and bus station manager saved his life when he had a cardiac arrest at Norwich Bus Station.

Cardiology nurse Laura Dickerson was in the right place at the right time to spring into action to help save Brian Spall when he collapsed while waiting for a bus.

The 23-year-old Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital nurse was helped by Norse bus station manager David Stuart to administer chest compressions and rescue breaths until paramedics could get to the scene.

Mr Spall, 64, said: “I call her my angel and I think she’s superb.

“The other man who helped, the paramedics, the staff nurses and doctors who looked after me and cared for me to get me to this stage - I think they are wonderful and I wish them all a happy Christmas and a happy New Year, and that’s from the bottom of my heart.”

The Evening News helped to bring Miss Dickerson and the retired British Sugar worker together at his home in Station Road, Lingwood, where they shared an emotional reunion.

Miss Dickerson told how Mr Spall was fortunate that she happened to be at the bus station on the day - Wednesday, December 14.

She said: “I haven’t been on a bus for six or seven year so he’s extremely lucky I went on one that day.”

Mr Spall had used the Postwick Park and Ride to travel into the city centre for a spot of shopping at his favourite Topman store. After having lunch he returned to the bus station to get back to the park and ride site, but he remembers nothing after that point.

Miss Dickerson, from Norwich Road, Attleborough, had driven to the Thickthorn Park and Ride and took the bus, arriving at around 11.45am in the city to meet up with some colleagues for lunch and a spot of Christmas shopping.

She said: “Just as I was getting off the bus I saw a bit of a commotion just in front of where the bus had stopped and found Brian on the floor.

“I could see he didn’t look too sharp and saw he wasn’t breathing and had no pulse so I started chest compressions on him.

“Another man was there - I don’t know who he was, he could have been from the bus station or just got off the bus, and he was helping as well by doing the rescue breaths.

“It was absolutely shattering but your adrenaline just takes over and you don’t think about it until you hear the sirens.”

Working on the N&N’s Kilverstone cardiology ward, Miss Dickerson has carried out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before, but says it was a much more nerve-racking experience without having equipment and colleagues to hand.

She said: “When you’re in the hospital you have got other people about and all the equipment with you. Out there it’s just you and your own pair of hands.”

The city centre cycling paramedic was the first to arrive, shortly followed by an ambulance. Miss Dickerson carried on chest compressions while they removed Mr Spall’s coat and jumper so he could be attached to a defibrillator. He came round shortly after being shocked and was rushed to the N&N.

Mr Spall was moved up to Miss Dickerson’s ward and she visited later in the day to check if he was doing well.

She said: “It was so nice to see his family and him so happy. It makes your day, well, it’s made my year I think.”

Mr Stuart, 42, from Wymondham, said it was the third time he had had to aid a cardiac arrest at the bus station, but he was extremely glad Miss Dickerson was there as Mr Spall was not responding at all to CPR.

He said: “I was just so pleased when the paramedics came back in the evening to tell us that he was stable.

“It could have been a different story and we’re so glad the gentleman survived.”

He said all the bus station workers are trained in first aid, and estimated that they must help half a dozen people each month.

A spokeman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust said: “We would like to commend Laura Dickerson and David Stuart for their actions which potentially saved Brian Spall’s life. We had a response on scene within four minutes but within that short time frame Miss Dickerson and Mr Stuart had carried out vital resuscitation which enabled our crews to carry out more advance treatment on Mr Spall. By the time an ambulance arrived to transport to hospital, seven minutes after the call was made, he was well on his way to recovery.

“The efforts in saving his life were fantastic.”

Mr Spall, who first had heart problems seven years ago but has been fine since, underwent an operation last Friday to fit an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a small battery-powered electrical impulse generator which is programmed to detect irregular heart rhythms and correct it by delivering a jolt of electricty. He was able to be discharged on Saturday and is now looking forward to spending Christmas with his son Darren and daughter Diane, and is looking forward to the arrival of his first granddaughter next March.

Mr Spall’s son Darren, 29, from Reedham, said: “We will forever be in Laura’s debt because it could have been a whole different Christmas.”

Do you have a story about an amazing life-saving act? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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