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12-year-old girl reunited with team who brought her back to life after cardiac arrest

Date: 18 September 2023

Elzabeth Dobb, Michelle Ashwell, Lexi Ashwell and Shaun Whittington

A 12-year-old girl has had an emotional reunion with the emergency responders who helped save her life after she suffered a cardiac arrest at her home in July.

Lexi Ashwell, along with her family, visited Biggleswade Ambulance Station to meet the police officer from Bedfordshire Police who was first on scene and crews from the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) who worked together to bring her back to life.

Lexi was at her home in Upper Caldecote on Monday 10th July when her mum Michelle heard her scream just after 10pm and watched her walk around in a confused state before stumbling and falling on to the floor.

Michelle quickly realised that this was a medical emergency and her husband, Shane, called 999 with the call handler instructing Michelle to start CPR on Lexi immediately.

Michelle took it in turns to perform CPR with her eldest daughter, Allyssa, who had called her partner, Rob, as his mum, Elizabeth Dobb, works as an emergency medical technician at EEAST.

After being woken with the news by her son, Elizabeth rushed the three miles from her home in Sandy to Upper Caldecote.

EEAST’s control room had called Bedfordshire Police for a co-response due to the nature of the incident and PC Ayesha Hussain and PC Katie Dyball were dispatched to the scene.

Arriving first on scene after a two-mile drive on blue lights from Biggleswade, PC Ayehsa Hussain took over the CPR from Michelle and Alyssa.  

Elizabeth arrived on scene shortly after and was followed by local community first responder Dave Wright who had a defibrillator in his medical kit bag.

Elizabeth was able to administer Lexi with a first shock to try to help restore a normal heart rhythm and when this didn’t happen CPR started again.

Shaun Whittington, an advanced paramedic in urgent care, was next on scene in an ambulance officer vehicle, followed by an ambulance with emergency medical technician Fiona Lipscombe and Robert Green, another advanced paramedic in urgent care.

Shaun took over the lead on Lexi’s treatment and administered another shock with a defibrillator which achieved the resumption of a normal heart rate, known as a return of spontaneous circulation.

A response car from the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) with Dr Emma Butterfield and critical care paramedic Gary Spitzer had been dispatched to provide advanced critical care and took over the lead on Lexi’s care when they arrived on scene.  

After assessing Lexi, the EAAA team performed a rapid general anaesthetic at the scene – a procedure usually only available in a hospital – to protect Lexi’s vital functions and travelled with her on the ambulance while she was transferred by road to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Lexi spent a week in Addenbrooke’s Hospital before being transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital where she was fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a device that detects any life-threatening abnormal heartbeat and sends an electrical shock to change the heart rhythm back to normal.

She has been rehabilitating since by gradually increasing the amount of daily activity and is set to school next month.

Michelle Ashwell said:

“As a family we are deeply indebted to everyone who helped save Lexi’s life and we cannot express our gratitude enough.

“Seeing everyone all together again brings back memories of that night and really brings home how lucky we are that Lexi is still with us.

“It has been quite a journey for Lexi and quite a lot for her to come to terms with. We are hoping she can get back to some form of normality by returning to school next month.

“We would like some good to come from our experience and we are pushing for more members of the public to be taught CPR as you never know when it will be needed.”

Elizabeth Dobb said:

“I’m so thankful that everyone actions were able to save Lexi’s life on that evening and she now has the rest of her life in front of her.

“It is a good example of what we call the chain of survival. Michelle and Allyssa starting CPR straight away gave Lexi a fighting chance before officers from Bedfordshire Police took over with high-quality CPR. EEAST and the East Anglian Air Ambulance were then able to arrive and provide the medical expertise to help save Lexi and transport her to hospital.

“Obviously, knowing the family through my son’s relationship with Allyssa makes this even more special and to see Lexi doing so well is special.”

Dr Emma Butterfield of East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) said:

“The quick actions of Lexi’s family in starting CPR ensured that Lexi had the best possible chance of surviving this devastating event.

“EAAA cares for some of the most critically ill and injured patients in the region and working with first responders and other health services to form a chain of survival is an absolute privilege.

“I am overjoyed to hear how well Lexi is recovering.”

PC Ayesha Hussain said:

“Often people assume policing is just about taking action against criminals. While that is a large part of the job, there are arguably as many incidents where duty calls for us to administer first aid to people in a critical condition.

“This incident is definitely one that will stay with me, knowing that alongside Lexi’s amazing and brave family members, I was able to help ensure they could overcome this terrifying incident. I consider it a pleasure to meet Lexi again and wish her and her family all the very best on her road to recovery.”

  • Summary:

    A 12-year-old girl has had an emotional reunion with the emergency responders who helped save her life after she suffered a cardiac arrest at her home in July.