A MOTHER-OF-FOUR who collapsed in work and suffered a cardiac arrest has thanked her lifesavers.
Alwena Evans, manager of Thomas Motor Mart in the village of Glanrafon, Denbighshire, was sat in the garage’s back office one afternoon when she suddenly began to feel ill.
One of her colleagues quickly jumped into action to perform CPR when she collapsed to the floor, while road and air ambulance teams made their way to the scene.
Alwena, who lives in Bala, said: “I went to work as normal feeling fine. It was about lunchtime when I started to feel unwell and I vomited and also started sweating.
“At first I thought it was just a bug, but then I suddenly collapsed from my chair.”
MOT tester Gavin Anyon was planning to head home for the day when he spotted Alwena falling.
He dialled 999 and started to perform CPR with the guidance of Welsh Ambulance Service call handler Amanda Williams.
Gavin said: “I was literally just about to walk out of the door when I saw her collapse from the chair and fall to the floor. I dialled 999 and the lady on the phone told me exactly what to do.
“I did a few checks before starting CPR and everything just happened so quickly, but afterwards it was a very nerve-wracking experience. I was just relieved when I knew she was okay.”
Paramedics Ludwick Mrowiec and Gareth Roberts, based at Bala Ambulance Station, arrived on the scene within six minutes, followed shortly by a member of the Uwchaled Community First Responder (CFR) team.
They confirmed Alwena was suffering a cardiac arrest and, after delivering a shock with a defibrillator, achieved a return of spontaneous circulation.
However, the 65-year-old went back into cardiac arrest and required a further five shocks, as well as other lifesaving treatment.
Ludwick said: “We arrived and saw that Gavin had done a good job and from there everything just went like clockwork that day.
“We gave Alwena one shock and she responded well, but then she reverted back into cardiac arrest and we had to give a further five shocks. She was doing really well when the helicopter arrived.
“We did an electrocardiogram (ECG) which confirmed there was something wrong with her heart and she was then taken to Glan Clwyd.”
The medics were supported by Corwen ambulance crew Manon Williams and Ganor Smith, along with consultants Dr Stephan Clements and Dr James Chinery and Critical Care Practitioner Kate Owen on the Wales Air Ambulance.
Together they stabilised her condition before Alwena was airlifted to the North Wales Cardiac Centre at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd on the afternoon of 11 October 2017.
There she underwent an operation to have a stent fitted to improve the blood flow around her heart.
She was discharged from hospital nine days later and returned to work a week before Christmas.
Alwena, who has three grandchildren, was recently reunited with Ludwick and Gareth to thank them for their involvement in saving her life.
She said: “The care I received was absolutely brilliant, it was first class and I couldn’t fault what everyone did for me.
“Although I hadn’t met them before, they regularly call into the garage for fuel and Ludwick went to school with my daughter.
“I was going to my daughter’s one day after I was out of hospital when Ludwick happened to walk round the corner with his children on the way to school.”
Ludwick said: “Her daughter Tracy lives round the corner from me so I bumped into her a few times and asked how she was getting on.
“Then one of our friends Tim Williams had a do on at Neuadd Buddug, and I saw her other daughter Mandy there and she gave me a big hug.”
Gareth said: “It’s quite good because we don’t often get to meet patients after we’ve treated them, so it’s really nice to see Alwena looking so well.
“We weren’t too far away when it happened, in fact we were just the other side of Corwen when we got the call.”
The Welsh Ambulance Service is currently running its annual Defibuary campaign, aimed at raising awareness of what a defibrillator is and where to find the closest one.
Following Alwena’s illness, the community is now aiming to raise £1,300 to place a public access defibrillator outside the garage so it’s available when someone goes into cardiac arrest.
A patient’s chance of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest decreases by an estimated 10 per cent with every passing minute without intervention, such as CPR and defibrillation.
The fundraising is being co-ordinated by the Achub Calon Y Dyffrun group, launched by Uwchaled CFR team co-ordinator Tomos Hughes to increase the number of defibrillators in North Wales.
The group has set up almost 200 public access defibrillator sites in the region, and trained approximately 3,000 people to use them and administer CPR.
Tomos said: “Alwena’s story shows the importance of early CPR and defibrillation when someone goes into cardiac arrest.
“Every second counts in a medical emergency, and by placing a defibrillator in the community we’ll be closing the gap in those available to the public to provide immediate lifesaving care in the minutes before an ambulance arrives.”
You can make a donation towards the new defibrillator by visiting https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROSomeoneSpecialPage?pageUrl=AlwenaEvans