Vicky Tallentire, of Corstorphine, Edinburgh, became unwell while on a treadmill at a city gym.
She was suffering from a rare disorder in which anaphylaxis occurs after physical activity and was unresponsive after having collapsed. She was rushed to New Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by ambulance crew Mark Ferrier and Alex Vesco. Since the incident, she has been reunited with both on separate occasions.
Vicky, a medical consultant of Acute Receiving at Western General Hospital, said: “It was a Saturday morning and I was at the gym.
“I was on a treadmill when I started to feel really unwell. I went downstairs with my husband Mike, who was with me and I collapsed in quite a confined bathroom area of the gym, with what evolved into an episode of anaphylaxis. I have had one previous episode of anaphylaxis and I sort of recognised some of the symptoms.”
She said “very rapidly” she started to lose consciousness and added: “My husband, who is a doctor as well, phoned 999. I don’t remember much about the intervening period between the phone call going out and me kind of regaining consciousness in the emergency department in the Royal Infirmary. I do remember a crew arriving and having a sense I was being managed really well.
“My husband, an ICU consultant, thought I was going to [cardiac] arrest. I was in a small toilet area of the gym, making logistical issues even more challenging.”
An ambulance crew was soon dispatched, staffed by Mark and Alex.
Vicky said: “The crew were everything I could have asked for - efficient, effective and kind, all at the same time. I didn't care much about kind words; I knew I needed adrenaline and fluids and hospital. But whenever I was conscious I felt a sense of control by the crew; I heard specific and effective communication, I heard rapid decision-making under pressure and I knew I was in safe hands
“I have only ever been in an ambulance transferring patients between hospitals, never as a patient myself.
“I know I owe my life to that crew - being at the front line is tough. I know, I live it. But just occasionally you do get to make a real difference to someone's life.”
Accompanied by her son Wilson, Vicky recently met up with paramedic Alex just before Christmas. She also ran into Mark earlier this month while at work.
Wilson also thanked the crews: “Thank you for having my mum back for Christmas.”
On meeting Vicky again, Alex said: “It was a real unique experience to meet a patient after the event, it’s not something we commonly get to do, and quite often we don’t get to find out how are patients are after we take them into the Emergency Department, so this has been really good to have an informal debrief, and ask each other questions, so it was really nice to meet up.”
Vicky has since made a very full recovery and added: “I really can’t express how grateful I am to both of the crew involved, and also the amazing team at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh ED. From the bottom of my heart, I am so immensely grateful to everyone involved.”