Boyfriend’s CPR skills save Amy’s life

Amy Williams has no memory of the day her heart stopped.
The 17 year old from Capel St Mary was due to visit her boyfriend in Clacton that day, February 22nd, 2016 and only knew she had made the journey when she woke up in hospital.

The reason Amy is here to tell her story is thanks in part to boyfriend Brandon Finch, the East of England Ambulance Service and us. 

Amy, Brandon and her family recently visited our Earls Colne airbase and showed their thanks and support by presenting a donation of £270.00 to the life-saving Charity.

Brandon with Critical Care Paramedic Phil Almond

Having been trained in First Aid and CPR when he was practicing for his black belt in martial arts aged 13, Brandon instinctively knew what to do when Amy first suffered a seizure, then collapsed in Wellesley Road, Clacton.

Brandon says: “I picked Amy up from the bus stop near the train station and had only walked a few minutes down the road when Amy had a seizure. I knew from my First Aid training that you leave someone to get through a seizure, so I waited until Amy had come out of it.”

When Amy recovered, Brandon tried to move Amy to safety and out of the rain when she collapsed and her heart stopped.

“I was going to get her home because she wasn’t well, when she fell against me and onto the floor. When I realised she wasn’t breathing I began CPR and chest compressions until the ambulance arrived.”

After a few minutes someone stopped to help Brandon and called the emergency services. The land ambulance arrived within minutes and we arrived shortly after.

After landing at the nearby leisure centre Pre-Hospital Care Doctor Ian Tyrell-Marsh and Critical Care Paramedic Phil Almond enhanced the successful resuscitation started by Brandon and continued by the land ambulance crew, and placed Amy into an induced coma to optimise her airway and breathing. Amy was then airlifted to Basildon Hospital.

Brandon, who has since won Outstanding Personal Achievement Award at the first Tendring Youth Awards ceremony, was shortlisted in the Colchester Youth Awards and received special recognition from Colchester Institute for his Outstanding Achievement in saving Amy, was taken by police car to Basildon Hospital, where he met up with Amy’s parents and was praised by doctors.

Brandon said: “I didn’t think I had done much to help Amy but the paramedics and doctors said I kept the blood pumping to her brain which prevented her from becoming brain damaged.”

Amy said: “It has taken me a while to process what happened to me and how Brandon helped save my life. Brandon had told me before that he’d had to learn First Aid and CPR but you don’t really think about it. But if Brandon hadn’t known CPR I wouldn’t be here, as I am, today.”

Amy met Brandon just three months earlier when the pair, who were both 16 at the time, started their catering and hospitality course at Colchester Institute. With their shared passion for martial arts, the couple enjoyed their studies and spare time together.

From the age of 10 Amy suffered from the symptoms of Pectus Excavatum, an indented chest. The condition meant her chest bone was pressing on her heart and there was only a 3cm space between her chest bone and back bone. 

As a young teenager the condition meant Amy easily got out of breath and suffered chest pains. After seeing children’s cardiac consultants in Ipswich and St Thomas’s Hospital in London, Amy was referred to Guys Hospital in London in June 2015 for an operation to move her chest bone out, giving her heart the space it needs to do its job.

Amy and her family were thrilled with the result and Amy began to live her life to the full - until February 2016.

Amy said: “The day before I went to Clacton I wasn’t feeling very well. I wasn’t even sure I was going to go, but I obviously felt better because I did go.

“I had apparently woken up from the induced coma the following day, when my parents were with me and I had chatted with them. But I woke up the day after that feeling disoriented and scared.

The first thing I remember is seeing the nurse walk in, wondering where I was. The nurse told me what had happened but for days afterwards I’d forget and wake up with the same disoriented feeling. I kept asking the same questions.

“At first I thought it was all a joke and then I was gutted that I’d been on a helicopter – something I’d always wanted to do – but have no memory of it!

“I am so glad I had the opportunity to learn CPR at the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance’s CPRathon event in Chelmsford on Sunday (11th September), which was part of National Air Ambulance Week.”.

Amy spent nearly two weeks at Basildon Hospital, after which she was transferred to St Thomas’ in London. After tests Amy was fitted with an internal defibrillator and went home on March 17th. She is now doing well and has begun the second year of her studies.

Earlier this month (September) Amy and Brandon visited our Earls Colne Airbase to meet the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) team that treated and airlifted Amy to hospital. Amy and her friends and family also showed their thanks and support with a donation of £270.00, and are planning to hold some fundraising activities in the near future.

Amy said: “It was great to put faces to the names and to put an end to the episode too.”