Woman tells story of how ‘fantastic’ ambulance crew saved her life

Imogen Guest with some of the SECAmb staff who saved her. Picture: SECAmb
Imogen Guest with some of the SECAmb staff who saved her. Picture: SECAmb
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“It was only when they couldn’t wake me up that they realised that something more serious had happened.”

Imogen Guest had only been at her new job at Virgin Atlantic in Crawley for a few months when she collapsed at her desk and went into cardiac arrest in June last year.

When something like this happens to you, it does make you see things differently.

Imogen Guest

Imogen was one of eight patients who were reunited with the teams from South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) who saved their lives. The survivors saw their lifesavers for the first time since they were treated at SECAmb’s sixth annual ‘Our Survivors’ event on Sunday, September 25 at Ashdown Park Hotel, near East Grinstead.

Their stories were told in a special brochure produced by SECAmb.

“I don’t remember much about the whole incident but I was told that people thought that I had fallen asleep at the desk,” Imogen, who was 21 at the time of the incident, said in a statement included in the report.

“It was only when they couldn’t wake me up that they realised that something more serious had happened.”

Thanks to quick-thinking by staff, Imogen was moved to the floor straight away so that CPR could be carried out and, with the use of the on-site defibrillator, they shocked her, according to SECAmb.

Ambulance crews quickly arrived with the first crew being John Waghorn and Jenny Hannaway.

John remembers the job well: “It was quite surreal because I used to work in that exact same building so know some of the staff there.

“They did a fantastic job and gave us a good basis to build on.”

Other crews arriving soon after included the air ambulance crew who worked quickly to try and stabilise Imogen, assessing whether she should be taken to St George’s Hospital or to the nearest intensive care unit. The decision was to take her by land ambulance to East Surrey Hospital before transferring her on to St George’s Hospital, according to the ambulance service.

Imogen’s mother Jane was understandably shocked at first: “I couldn’t really take it all in when I first found out,” she said in the report.

“All I knew about it at the time was I needed to get to her but I wasn’t sure where to go, the hospital or to her place of work.”

She decided to go to Imogen’s work and when she arrived the seriousness of Imogen’s condition began to dawn on her.

“When I got there and saw four ambulances outside, I thought ‘are they really all for Imogen?’”

After an hour of stabilising Imogen was safely taken to hospital and spent the next two weeks recovering, according to SECAmb. She has since had an ICD device fitted and has returned to work.

“It has been an emotional year with ups and downs but as a family we are getting through it,” Imogen said.

“When something like this happens to you, it does make you see things differently.

“It has also made me realise how lucky I was. We are so very fortunate to have the NHS. Having been through this, you really get to understand and appreciate what a fantastic job they do.”

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