Man inspired to volunteer for GNAAS after suffering heart attack

A MAN who suffered a heart attack while on a boat in Lake Windermere has been inspired to volunteer for the air ambulance charity that came to his aid.

Jim Hutchinson, 61, from Staveley, Kendal, was out on the lake in his partner Amanda’s boat when he suddenly started feeling unwell with chest pains, which rapidly became worse.

Recalling the incident, which happened on 13 November last year, he said: “I told Amanda and she initiated a call for the ambulance. The lake wardens came down and helped and they were fantastic. They came with oxygen and a defibrillator and moved the boat to a better access point for the ambulance.

“When they assessed me, they confirmed what I was pretty sure of already, that I was having a heart attack.

“So they gave me some analgesia and called for a helicopter because I needed to get to hospital very quickly.”

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was activated to the scene and their helicopter landed on the Glebe in Bowness shortly afterwards.

The North West Ambulance Service transported Jim to the aircraft, where he was assessed by Dr Theo Weston MBE and paramedic Terry Sharpe from GNAAS.

Theo said: “With heart attacks, the quicker we can get somebody to hospital, the better. We have a phrase which is that time is muscle, so the shorter time we have before he gets to hospital, the less the muscle is damaged.”

Terry added: “The speed of our helicopter makes a big difference when a patient needs immediate medical intervention, and the flight time from Windermere to Carlisle, where we took Jim, was around 15 minutes.”

Jim was flown to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle where he had a stent fitted and spent five days in the cardiac unit before returning home.

He said: “It’s been a bit of a journey, but I’m back to cycling, going to the gym, and walking and getting much better.”

Since the incident, Jim and his friends and family, who were with him at the time of his heart attack, have visited GNAAS’ base in Langwathby and reunited with the doctor and paramedic team who helped to save his life.

Jim said: “It’s so nice to be able to say thank you. They were so reassuring and also reassuring to my friends and family who were around at the time before we took off, because it’s quite a wrench when you see that helicopter disappear and you don’t know what’s happening.”

Theo said: “It’s absolutely brilliant to see Jim again because quite often we don’t get to see the people we treat afterwards. The fact that Jim has come back today looking as well as he is, really is a testament to his strength.”

Despite experiencing a traumatic event, the incident has inspired Jim to volunteer his time to support GNAAS, which has been registered as a charity for nearly 21 years.

He said: “I wanted to put something back. This service relies on volunteers to get the word out there because there is no public funding for it. They need £8 million a year, so without volunteers going out, shaking buckets, giving talks etc, people won’t know about it, and they won’t hear the story of the brilliant work that they do.

“I know it’s difficult nowadays, but if you can donate to GNAAS please do so. If you can’t, please go to their website and volunteer your time.”

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