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Emotional reunion for grandmother with life savers who brought her back from death

Date: 06 June 2023

Time: 12:00

The Kay Rush patient meet-up; from left to right: PC Josh Stephenson, Rachel Trengrove, Sharon Spencer, Kay Rush (patient), Michelle D'Arcy, Georgina Bull and Sergeant Barry Scott

A grandmother from Stevenage enjoyed an emotional reunion with the people who saved her life after she suffered a cardiac arrest at the wheel of her car in April.

Kay Rush, 63, is on the road to a full recovery and will visit Stevenage Ambulance Station on Babbage Road on Monday 5th June to thank the people whose actions each played a key part in saving her life.

Early intervention with CPR is crucial in increasing the chances of survival in cardiac arrests suffered outside of hospitals and Kay now looks back thankful it occurred when it did, rather than five minutes earlier or later, when she would have been home alone. 

She suffered the cardiac arrest just after 3.30pm on Fellowes Way in Stevenage on the 13th April which caused her to crash her car into a parked vehicle.

Michelle D’Arcy was having lunch at the Our Mutual Friend pub opposite and the off-duty school crossing patrol officer rushed to help when she witnessed the crash. Seeing Kay was in cardiac arrest, Michelle started CPR immediately with Kay still at the wheel of the car.

Sharon Spencer, a senior paramedic in a rapid response vehicle, was on scene within two minutes and moved Kay out of the vehicle to continue the CPR.

Rachel Trengrove, a senior paramedic and developing leading operations manager, arrived soon after to assist, along with an ambulance – crewed by Leroy Leachman, a newly qualified paramedic, and Georgina Bull, an apprentice emergency support worker.

Officers from Hertfordshire Constabulary were also quickly on scene and Acting Sergeant Barry Scott and PC Josh Stephenson assisted in the life-saving efforts by performing CPR on Kay.     

Kay was given four shocks over a 12-minute period which achieved a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) – which is a resumption of a sustained heart rhythm after cardiac arrest.

Essex and Herts Air Ambulance landed their helicopter shortly after to provide critical care assistance. They performed a rapid sequence intubation (RSI) on Kay before she was transported by road to the Lister Hospital.

After 24 hours, Kay was extubated and came round with no major problems, just having slight short term memory loss. The hospital found nothing wrong with her heart and the cardiac arrest had been spontaneous.

She was transferred to the cardiac unit in the Royal Brompton Hospital in London and has now had an internal defibrillator and pacemaker fitted and is building up her stamina with her seven grandchildren keeping her busy.     

 Kay Rush said:

 “This cardiac arrest came out of the blue as I thought I was in good health. I had completed a virtual London Marathon in 2021.

“If it happened five minutes before I would have been at my daughter Nicola’s house feeding her cats while she was away; five minutes later I would have been at my 94-year-old mum’s house and she would have called 999 but would not have been able to start CPR.

“So, I feel incredibly lucky that it happened when it did and thankful to all the people who helped – thankful to Michelle who started the CPR, the Police officers and the ambulance service who were so quickly on scene, the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance and the Lister Hospital.

“I have been told that the survival rate for out of hospital cardiac arrests is around 3% and it is even lower for those who show no ill effects is around 1% – I’m thankful to all involved that I’m now part of that small survival percentage.”

Kay has been informed that following the incident the Our Mutual Friend pub is now raising money to buy a defibrillator to keep in the pub and she is pleased that some good has come out of her bad experience.

 Rachel Trengrove, a developing leading operations manager from EEAST, said:

 "This is a fantastic outcome for Kay and her family, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing her again”.

 “I was close to tears when the ambulance left with Kay as I knew it was going to be a good outcome for her, as the CPR was started quickly and at each stage of her treatment it had been so efficient.

“This shows the importance of everyone learning basic lifesaving skills as you never know when it will be needed - it can help play a part in save a person’s life as happened with Kay.”  

Inspector John Nelms of Hertfordshire Constabulary said: 

“I am incredibly proud of my officers and the fact that their quick action was instrumental in saving Kay’s life.

“Our officers are trained to an extremely high standard and this includes first aid training and lifesaving techniques. Both officers have been nominated for a Royal Humane Society award, recognition they rightly deserve. I am also delighted that they were able to meet Kay, who is recovering well.”

Michelle D’Arcy, who has received an award from her employers, Hertfordshire County Council, for her actions in helping save Kay’s life that day, said:

 “During my first aid course it really stuck in my head the importance of CPR in keeping oxygen flowing to the brain and other vital organs and that was my immediate thought when I saw Kay was in cardiac arrest.

 “I could hear Kay was responding to the CPR I was performing and was grateful that the ambulance service and police arrived quickly to carry on with the life-saving efforts. 

“Playing a part in saving Kay has helped me ten-fold and I have told her how much of an impact it has had on me personally, as I have suffered with depression for years and this event feels like it has given me a purpose.   

“I would encourage everyone to learn basic lifesaving skills and further training is something I would like to explore in the future. My father is a community first responder in Buckinghamshire."


  • Summary:

    A grandmother from Stevenage enjoyed an emotional reunion with the people who saved her life after she suffered a cardiac arrest at the wheel of her car in April.