15 stories: Derek Carruthers

A HEART attack survivor has thanked the air medics who flew him to hospital after his close call.

A HEART attack survivor has thanked the air medics who flew him to hospital after his close call.  

Derek Carruthers, 64, was playing golf in Penrith when he suffered a heart attack four years ago this May. The Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) doctor-led trauma team swiftly came to his aid. 

Mr Carruthers from Kirkoswald, was taking part in Penrith Golf Club’s Inglewood Cup. He said: “I had played five holes of golf when I started to feel a pain in my chest. I played two more holes and it got worse so I went for a sit down.

“One of the guys I was with had suffered a heart attack before and recognised the symptoms straight away.

“The club house called the emergency services. It all happened very fast. A rapid response paramedic arrived within 10 minutes and called for the air ambulance which arrived shortly after.”

Mr Carruthers, a retired sales executive in construction, said he would describe the pain like “someone sticking a corkscrew in your chest and turning it tighter.”

The grandfather-of-one was flown to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough for surgery.

He said: “After initial treatment by the GNAAS team, I was taken to hospital where surgeon, Mr Swanson, and his team removed a clot from an artery on the surface of my heart and installed two stents. Less than an hour later, I was fine and recovering. The turnaround was remarkable.

“I know I’ve been very lucky. If everyone hadn’t reacted so promptly, I might not be here. It sounds dramatic but it’s true.”

Now, Mr Carruthers and his wife Bridget, 66, have visited the Langwathby airbase to thank aircrew paramedic Terry Sharpe who was at the scene.

Mr Sharpe said: “Derek’s incident is a textbook case of everyone working together to give a patient the best possible chance of recovery. Without bystanders, the rapid response paramedic and air ambulance all working swiftly, the outcome may have been different.”

Mr Carruthers said: “I haven’t smoked, don’t drink a lot and I like to keep fit but it can still happen. I now wear a heart monitor and I’ve been advised not to let my heart exert 100 beats per minute.”

Mr Carruthers has played golf for more than 30 years, is also a keen skier, and he attends the gym at Ainstable Leisure twice a week. He also works as a support driver on charity rides from London to Paris with Maximum Adventure and Rather Be Cycling.

He said: “You have to seize the moment. I am so thankful I can still do all the things I enjoy.”

GNAAS is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary of becoming an independent registered charity. To find out how you can help, please visit gnaas.com

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