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Off-duty Pembrokeshire paramedic awarded commendation for lifesaving assistance

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An off-duty paramedic who came to the aid of a patient in cardiac arrest has been awarded a commendation.

Andrew Oakman, of Llandissilio, Pembrokeshire, had parked his car at Haverfordwest ambulance station in May as he visited a nearby gym when he was approached by a concerned lady looking for a defibrillator.

The 37-year-old dad-of-three said: “The gyms had only just reopened after lockdown and as the changing rooms were closed I thought I’d park at the station and get changed there as I was doing the school run later that day.

“It was about 1.15pm and I was just lowering the garage door on the station preparing to leave when a young lady ran up to me asking if there was a defibrillator inside as somebody had collapsed at a nearby house.

“I explained I was an off-duty paramedic and put my foot under the door to stop it closing fully and as quickly as I could went inside to get the equipment I may have needed.”

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Andrew retrieved a defibrillator, a kit bag and personal protective equipment from one of the Trust’s rapid response cars which was not operational at that time and followed the lady back up the street to the house in question.

He continued: “I went into the house and there was a patient on the floor.

“Thankfully, one of their neighbours who was an off-duty police officer had started cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

“I asked the officer if he was happy to continue with the CPR and he agreed he was.

“I put the pads of the defibrillator on the patient’s chest and it confirmed they were in arrest.

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“I shocked them once and got them back for a little while but they slipped back into arrest so I shocked them for a second time and they returned to breathing on their own.

“It was about this time the ambulance crew arrived and took over the scene.”

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Andrew provided a handover brief to the incoming crew and took time to call ahead to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital and even returned to speak to the family to explain what had happened.

“In the midst of what just happened, the family were clearly still in shock so I went back to speak with them and put them at ease,” said Andrew.

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“When we’re in situations like that we’re so patient-focussed that everything around you can seem to disappear.

“It was then that it dawned on me that I had to do the school run and my poor son was waiting for me.

“I phoned him and explained daddy had to do something urgently – he’s a good kid and he was okay.

“When I got home and began to settle I felt ‘did that just happen?’

“I couldn’t believe the sequence of events that had unfolded.”

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The patient was treated at Morriston Hospital where they remained for two weeks before they sadly passed away.

Andrew continued: “From what I understand, although they knew the patient was critically ill, the family are very grateful to have been able to say their goodbyes in a calm, controlled and dignified way.”

Presenting the commendation to Andrew on Tuesday in Pembroke Dock was Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Jason said: “Andrew was presented with a pressurised situation that would have come as a big shock as he relaxed whilst off-duty.

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“Using his training and thinking quickly he was able to source life-saving equipment and along with the off-duty police officer resuscitate the patient and give the family precious extra time with their loved one.

“Andrew’s actions personify the values of care and compassion we instil in our staff and we are very proud of him.”

On receiving the commendation, Andrew said: “It was the last thing I expected.

“I was just there, I helped out and you know, just carried on.

“It feels like a privilege really.”

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