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Durham University

University and City: Growing together

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‘I’m lucky to be alive’ – grateful patient thanks lifesaving technician

(22 October 2019)

Ian Garrett, left, pictured with Andrew Charles, his wife Gillian, right) and Trina Duke, who also came to Mr Charles' aid

Back in March, Andrew Charles suffered a cardiac arrest while attending one of our Open Days.

Thankfully, Ian Garrett, a technician in our Engineering Department, is a volunteer community first responder with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

Volunteer community first responders are NEAS-trained volunteers who respond to emergencies before an ambulance arrives.

Ian got the call, came to Andrew’s aid and helped save his life.

Now, seven months later, the two have been reunited, with a grateful Andrew saying: “I’m very lucky to be alive.”

Supporting our staff to do inspiring things

Many of our staff do inspiring volunteering work in their local communities. We support this however possible, including by offering up to five days’ paid volunteering leave each year.

In Ian’s case, we support him to be a community first responder by allowing him to be on-call while he’s at work, and being as flexible as possible if an emergency occurs.

We benefit too, by having someone skilled and experienced in dealing with medical situations close at hand.

An emotional reunion

Ian and Andrew were recently reunited at an NEAS base, along with paramedics and others involved on the day.

Andrew said: “I can’t remember anything before I had the cardiac arrest. It happened totally out of the blue. I think that the fast response from everyone was crucial for me surviving.

“I’m so very grateful to everyone who helped. Thanks to them, I’m very lucky to be alive and coming back to the North East to say thank you was really important.”