It was an ordinary August day when John Stokoe of Temple Lodge set off from home to meet with fellow members of his Master’s Circle at Berkeley. But the day ended far from ordinary.
John was driving northwards towards Stroud in the outside lane on the M5 when suddenly he became very unwell. What was going on? John had to rely on the recollections of others to put the remaining pieces of the jigsaw in place. A series of coincidences then ensued. John was in fact suffering a cardiac arrest. Pressure had come off the accelerator and he began to lose power. He had also drifted into the middle lane. The power had decreased significantly enough for the engine control system to cut power completely and he came to a halt. An off-duty policewoman who was travelling just behind John knew that something serious was happening. She stopped and went to investigate. As it happens, two other off-duty police officers weren’t far behind and they managed to block the inside and outside lanes. They smashed the window of John’s car and tried to extricate him from the vehicle. By this time John had stopped breathing so they began CPR and called for emergency medical assistance. It just so happened that an ambulance was already on the motorway and was in the queue which had began to build. It came up the hard shoulder and was quickly on the scene. They quickly realised John was in a very serious condition and needed more specialist care than they could provide.
The Great Western Air Ambulance was scrambled from its base at Almondsbury and was on the scene in a matter of minutes. Both carriageways of the motorway were closed to enable the helicopter to land safely. The Critical Team got to work to stabilise John’s condition. He was then carefully loaded onto the stretcher and into the helicopter and prepared for take-off. Fourteen minutes later they were touching down on the heli-pad on the top of the Bristol Royal Infirmary and John was whisked off and into the Heart Institute where he received immediate attention and care.
Following several weeks of treatment John was allowed to go home and is well on the way to a full recovery. John has subsequently spoken to the off-duty policewoman who filled him in on the details of the day. John said, “Had it not been for her quick thinking and actions I wouldn’t be here today.”
John visited the GWAAC base at Almondsbury to personally thank the Critical Care Doctors and Paramedics whose expertise and skills again significantly contributed to him still being here to tell the tale. John said “Just saying “Thank you” doesn’t seem enough for what everyone did for me that day, but it comes from the heart and I am eternally grateful.”
John was just one of 2001 incidents GWAAC attended in 2019. This averages out at about 5 each day with one cardiac arrest every day. GWAAC needs £4M each year to stay operational is entirely charity funded – it receives no Government money for day to day running costs and no money from the National Lottery. It relies on the generosity of the public. If you would like to find out how you can donate visit greatwesternairambulance.com
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