Portsmouth woman who was ‘effectively dead’ gets the chance to thank paramedics

LESS than two months after being described as ‘effectively dead’ a woman has had the opportunity to meet and thank the paramedics who saved her life.

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 20th June 2019, 4:12 pm

On April 24, Susan Sheppard, 62, collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest in the Help 4 Special Children shop on Copnor Road while out shopping with her four-year-old grandson.

Paramedic Justin Hurst, 27, was one of the first on the scene.

‘Susan had stopped breathing for several minutes. She had no pulse and was effectively dead,’ he said.

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Susan Sheppard 62, suffered a cardiac arrest in a charity shop on Copnor Road - she's now met the paramedics who saved her life Picture: Habibur Rahman

Now on the road to recovery, Susan got the opportunity to thank the paramedics who brought her back from the brink.

After an emotional embrace, Susan said: ‘I’m so pleased I got to see the paramedics and thank them in person - I can’t thank them enough. Without their actions I wouldn’t be here with my daughter or have the opportunity to see my grandson grow up.’

After Susan’s heart stopped it was a race against time to prevent her from dying.

It was only a fortunate series of circumstances that led to her survival.

Sue Sheppard and her daughter Kim Piper Picture: Sarah Standing (280519-456)

Paramedic Celine McCague, 38, said: ‘We had literally just drove past the shop on the way to another job when we got the call to divert. It meant we were on the scene in two minutes. This was crucial as every second counts.’

Despite fate being on her side Susan was in a perilous state when the ambulance arrived.

Emergency care assistant, Natalie Andrews, 48, said: ‘When we arrived she was on her side and showed no signs of life.’

Fortunately for Susan she responded to three shocks from the defibrillator and was rushed to Queen Alexandra Hospital for further treatment.

Susan Sheppard (centre), with paramedic team, Celine McCague, left, Justin Hurst and Natalie Andrews Picture: Habibur Rahman

Two months on Susan is back to good health and has returned to walking her dogs.

Susan said: ‘The paramedics do such an amazing job and I don’t think they are appreciated enough.’

Celine replied: ‘It is brilliant to see her looking so well. This is not often the case with someone who suffers a cardiac arrest outside hospital.’

Daughter, Kim Piper, 33, is now looking to raise money to support the hospital by cutting off her hair, and her brother Nathan is undertaking a motorbike challenge. To donate to Kim's appeal click here.

Kim said: ‘I owe these guys everything. Without the hospital staff my mum wouldn’t be here.’

The resuscitation that may never have happened

After life-saving treatment had begun it was only a fortunate twist of fate which prevented Susan’s resuscitation being stopped.

Susan said: ‘I registered DNR (do not resuscitate) with my doctor a few years ago as after seeing my parents with Alzheimer's I didn’t want a situation where I could be left with brain damage. Fortunately I left my record of this at home and it was not on my person.’

Paramedic Justin Hurst, 27, confirmed: ‘If we had been presented with evidence of DNR then we would have been legally obliged to stop the process. It would appear in Susan’s case all the stars were aligned in her favour.’

Daughter, Kim Piper, added: ‘I’m so pleased the paramedics didn’t find out about the DNR. I knew this was my mum’s wish but I never agreed with it.’