54-year-old Andrew Read, from Oldbury, West Midlands was treated for life-threatening asthma by a Midlands Air Ambulance Charity critical care paramedic on-board one of the service’s critical care cars.
On Sunday 3rd January 2021, during the third UK national lockdown, Andrew, aged 53 at the time was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe and was suffering from extended periods of continuous coughing.
Andrew said: “I have a long list of ailments, which means I struggle to mobilise and have to use a walking stick to aid me when doing the simplest of tasks. However, over the new year period, I found it even more taxing to move from room to room due to being so breathless.
“I’ve been diagnosed as an asthmatic since the age of 14, but this particular medical episode of breathlessness was by far the worst I have experienced. My family and I were really worried.”
Due to the nature of his condition highlighted on the emergency call made by Andrew’s daughter, in addition to a land ambulance, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s Oldbury-based critical care car was also deployed to the scene to provide Andrew with enhanced medical assessment.
Within two minutes of the call being received by an NHS 111 operator, Jack Lewis, a critical care paramedic for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity was first on scene and began a thorough examination of Andrew’s breathing.
Critical care paramedic for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, Jack Lewis said: “A medical case, like Andrew’s, is one of the reasons that the charity took the decision to expand the fleet of air ambulance helicopters to include critical care cars.
“Not only can we be sent to assist at the scene of traumatic incidents like road traffic collisions and falls, but the cars enable clinicians like me with advanced skills, medicines and equipment to be mobilised to medical episodes as well, such as cardiac arrests and patients suffering with respiratory conditions, like Andrew’s.”
Jack listened to Andrew’s breathing with the use of a stethoscope and explained that he could hear the common rasp of breathlessness seen in most COVID-19 patients.
Andrew explained: “As I’d been struggling with my breath so long, in addition to a new, continuous cough, I wasn’t too surprised when Jack said he thought I was displaying COVID-19 symptoms.”
Two land ambulance colleagues also arrived on scene and it was decided that they would contact the NHS 111’s service to ask a doctor to prescribe Andrew with a stronger inhaler and some steroid medication to help alleviate his asthmatic symptoms and laboured breathing.
Jack left his patient in the capable hands of the land ambulance crew to ensure Andrew had everything he needed to recover from the adverse effects that COVID-19 was having on his asthma. This meant that Jack was free to be deployed to yet another critically ill or injured patient in need of lifesaving intervention and treatment.
Andrew summarises: “I was actually wearing my Mission Possible t-shirt when Jack arrived as I am a big supporter of the charity.
“I found Jack to be very thorough and professional and felt comfortable putting my trust in him. It made me appreciate first-hand how much of a positive difference the crew at Midlands Air Ambulance Charity can make whether they arrive via air or land.”