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Heart attack survivor backs St John Ambulance Cymru’s Save a Life September campaign

Ian Cummins

When Ian Cummins became critically unwell whilst participating in the Long Course Weekend challenge in Pembrokeshire this year, the quick reaction of those nearby saved his life.

Ian was in the cycling stage of the event when he suddenly collapsed, suffering a cardiac arrest.

Ian had travelled down from his home in Prestatyn, North Wales, with his wife for the event which took place on the first weekend of July. Ian never expected to find himself in such a frightening situation, but the quick reaction of those around him saved his life that day.

Ian has always been into fitness, regularly competing in triathlons and has even completed the Long Course Weekend event a few times in the past. He was feeling as fit and healthy as always in the weeks leading up to the event, so the incident was a complete shock.

Ian had done the swim part of the event on Friday 30th June with no problems at all and woke up early the following Saturday morning for the cycling event. He was familiar with the route and recalled the larger hill was approaching during the race, so paced himself appropriately. As he made his way up the hill, he began feeling unwell and collapsed, falling on his side. “It felt like an explosion had gone off in my chest” Ian recalled, and he went into cardiac arrest.

Behind him, two medical professionals were also taking part in the event. They came to his attention right away, along with a steward with a defibrillator. They identified Ian’s condition and began CPR immediately. The St John Ambulance Cymru volunteer paramedic team then quickly arrived on the scene to assist them with his treatment.

Those who helped Ian did vital work to speed up the chain of survival as he suffered his cardiac arrest. The chain of survival describes a series of prompt actions which improve someone’s chances of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest. The prompt CPR, early defibrillation and fast medical attention Ian received played an invaluable role in saving his life.

An air ambulance arrived and transported Ian to Morriston Hospital. He was put in the acute ward and had a stent fitted in his heart. He was discharged on the following Wednesday and after various cardiac and physiotherapy appointments, he is feeling a whole lot better now. “I feel raring to go” he says, “I definitely want to take on more physical challenges in the future … but maybe I’ll have a break this year.”

“I’ve been to various events such as this in my life, and I’ve even been involved with organising running events in the past. You take the first aid support for granted, but they really are so important” Ian says.

Ian Cummins

Ian’s story is the perfect example of why quick action is so vital in the chain of survival following a cardiac arrest. Following a cardiac arrest, a person’s survival chances are reduced by 10% for every passing minute without action. The more confident you are with CPR skills, the quicker you can act to save a loved one.

Ian is backing St John Ambulance Cymru’s Save a Life September campaign this year, as it encourages people across Wales to learn lifesaving first aid skills. Throughout the month, St John Ambulance Cymru will be sharing first aid advice across social channels, website and holding free public demonstrations across Wales.

Be there for your friends, family and wider community by signing up to a course this September, just in case you have to use your skills one day.