Gasping for life: Norwich man thanks the ambulance crew who saved his life

Date: 30 May 2018

Longwater Patient Meetup

"Anyone that has the opportunity to thank the people who saved their life should be jumping at that chance. Today I got that opportunity to see the faces of the many people who did just that and say a big thank you.”

The words of a joyous Tony Dossor who has shaken the hands of the ambulance crew from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) who saved his life back in November 2017.

Sat in Longwater ambulance depot in Norwich, Tony tries to recount the night when he suffered from a severe and nearly life-ending asthma attack, which left Tony in a medically-induced coma for three days.

It had been ten years since Tony, 72, had any issues with his breathing - but on 26th November 2017, all that changed. Tony was finding it difficult to breathe so he called 111 for help, who then transferred his call over to 999 .

Paramedic, Adele Swallow, and Intermediate Ambulance Practioner (IAP) Robert Cork, arrived to check on Tony, giving oxygen therapy and using a nebuliser – which helped get his breathing back to normal. Following treatment, it was agreed not to take Tony into hospital, so they went on their way to their next call out.

"Tony was fine; we sat watching Strictly Come Dancing, then he started to take a turn for the worse again. The first crew told us that if he was feeling unwell, he should take ten puffs on his nebuliser every minute for 10 minutes and leave it for half an hour, but nothing had changed, so we called 999 again," said Ann Rothe, Tony's partner.

Tony had made his way up to his bedroom to lie down.

At 11:40pm Ann called 999, and within seven minutes, Senior Emergency Medical Technician, Stephen Wilson and Associate Ambulance Practioner (AAP), Adrian Appleby arrived and rushed upstairs to his room where once again they started oxygen therapy and nebuliser.

However, this time Tony was acutely unwell and they requested immediate paramedic back up.

"All I saw was a green jacket, I reached out to that person's arm and said, 'I can't breathe'. That's all I remember, “ Tony said.

Paramedics, Katelyn Harper and Simon Anderton, along with student paramedic at the time (now Newly Qualified Paramedic) Aaron Nazar, joined their colleagues and began further treatment in line with severe and life-threatening asthma attack protocol.

Ann added: “You go into a bubble… things start to become a bit surreal. I wasn't neurotic or screaming, but one of them came up to me and kept me busy and made me prepared for the hospital and looked after me while they also cared for Tony. I think that's the other side of the service, looking after the family - that doesn't get the recognition it deserves.”

Tony was gently moved through his home then into the back of the ambulance where he was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.  

"We were monitoring Tony's breathing and noticed it started to diminish on the left-hand side of his chest, and it went silent. Tony had a little pocket of air in his lung; essentially his lung had collapsed. 

I had a rapid discussion with Katelyn and Aaron regarding decompressing Tony’s chest to try and release trapped air in his lung with a huge needle" said Simon.

Simon carried out the chest decompression, which involved sticking a needle into Tony's chest - no easy feat when travelling in the back of a moving ambulance.

His and the effective response that day, in conjunction with the crews overall care, saved Tony’s life.

Tony was taken into intensive care and put into a medically-induced coma for three days, then kept in intensive care for a further 24 hours before making a rapid return to recovery. Tony was discharged from hospital after a week.

Tony praised all elements of his care, adding: "I can't thank them enough, from the first crew who saw me before to the six guys and girls who took me hospital. The care me and my family received has been first class."


  • Summary:

    "Anyone that has the opportunity to thank the people who saved their life should be jumping at that chance"