Granddad Jamie Johnstone has said a heartfelt “thank you” to two quick-thinking medics who brought him back from the dead.
The 53-year-old’s life was saved after he suffered a cardiac arrest in the back of an ambulance.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for these guys,” said Jamie during an emotional reunion with paramedic Richard Gornall and emergency medical technician Lloyd Tomlinson.
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“Saying ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem enough. I can’t tell them just how grateful I am for what they did.”
Jamie, a landscape gardener from Lostock Hall, woke up with chest pains at around 4am while his wife Mandy was working a night shift as a healthcare assistant at the Royal Preston Hospital.
She told him by phone to call 999 and within minutes of the ambulance arriving he had collapsed.
The crew used a defibrillator to shock him back to life and he was rushed to hospital where he immediately underwent surgery.
“I’m feeling great now,” he said after a tearful meeting with his saviours at the ambulance station in Leyland.
“I owe my life to these lads. I don’t remember much about it, but I’m told it was touch and go.
“The staff at the hospital were brilliant too. None of these great people get the recognition they deserve for what they do.
“I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ in person to Richard and Lloyd. If they hadn’t arrived when they did and acted so quickly I don’t think I would have survived.”
Jamie, who has six children and five grandchildren, had an operation to fit three stents in blocked arteries. He spent three days in the specialist cardiac unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital before being allowed home.
Re-living his ordeal, he said: “I woke up early Sunday morning with a really bad pain in my chest. I’d been suffering a bit for a few weeks, but I just thought it was a chest infection.
“Two days earlier I told Mandy ‘I’m sure I’m going to have a heart attack.’
“When I called her that morning she said to ring 999. They said an ambulance was on its way, but it just seemed like I was waiting forever. I’m sure it was only a matter of minutes, but when you’re in real pain like that it seems longer.
“When the ambulance arrived I was outside in the middle of the road waiting with my son Charlie, who was panicking. I heard one of the paramedics say ‘Not Preston, Blackpool.’
“I remember saying to them ‘I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.’ And then I must have passed out. When I opened my eyes Charlie said they had zapped me. He said ‘you’d gone, dad.’
“When I got to hospital I went straight to theatre. I was in there for hours and they said I might not pull through.
“But I did. And I’m still here today because of what all these wonderful people did. The least I could do was to come down to the ambulance station and thank Richard and Lloyd in person.
“I know I’m lucky to be alive. And I’m so grateful for the help they gave me.
“I remember saying ‘don’t let me die.’ I want to see my grandchildren grow up and but for them I wouldn’t have had a chance to do that.
“It’s definitely made me change my life. I’m eating differently and not bothering with the lager.
“I suppose I was a prime candidate for a heart attack if I think about it. I lost my sister to a heart attack at 29 and my dad at 62.
“Now I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. Every day is a bonus and I’m going to make the most of getting a second chance.”
Wife Mandy said: “When Jamie called me I was at work at the hospital. I felt so helpless not being with him.
“I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know whether they were bringing him into Preston and I was in limbo for about half an hour until I heard he was going to Blackpool.
“I can’t put into words how grateful I feel for what Richard and Lloyd did and for all the brilliant staff at the hospital. How can you repay someone for saving your husband’s life?”
The ambulance crew who saved Jamie’s life insisted they were only doing their jobs.
But both Richard Gornall and Lloyd Tomlinson admitted it was a call-out they will never forget.
Paramedic Richard, who is trading the frontline for a 111 control room job next week, shook hands with Jamie and said: “He looks a lot better than the last time we saw him.
“He really wasn’t well. We could see that the moment we arrived. We knew we had to get him onboard (the ambulance) quickly.
“We guessed straight away he was having a heart attack. We didn’t even have time to park the ambulance, we just jumped out to help him.
“We have to deal with heart attacks now and again. But it’s rare for a patient to go into this type of rhythm and when we shock them they come straight back.
“It was amazing and it’s so good to see him looking so well now. It was certainly a case that we won’t ever forget.
“We don’t often get thanks for the job we do. We just hand over a patient at A&E and we don’t see them again. So it’s great to meet Jamie and his family.
“I feel really proud of the job me and Lloyd did that day.”
Lloyd added: “I’ve had a couple of heart attack cases before, but never one quite like this. Jamie looked awful and it was great get him back so quickly.
“He’s looking really well now – a lot better than he did when we picked him up.
“It’s nice that his story has had a happy ending.”