“I don’t think I feel too well.”
Those were the last words that Huntingdon man Paul Westerman spoke before he collapsed and almost died four years ago.
At the time, the 44-year-old was unaware of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust crews that rushed to his home in Huntingdon after his now wife Ellisa called 999 - but last month he finally got to meet one of the men that helped save his life.
Paramedic Andy Salter was part of the ambulance crew that helped Paul on the morning of April 11, 2011, when he developed a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, or blood clot, that stopped his lungs from working properly.
With Paul struggling to breathe and his blood pressure plummeting, it was a difficult job, and despite the time that has passed, Andy still remembers the first time they met:
“Paul was really very unwell when we got there. His skin was grey and he was fairly unresponsive – we knew we had to get him to a hospital quickly.”
After being rushed on blue lights to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Paul, who was due to get married to Ellisa just nine days later, began his long road to recovery. Now four years on, Paul wanted to thank the paramedic that he credits for saving his life.
He said: “I shouldn’t be here, but I am, and that’s thanks to Andy and his fellow crew. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve everything I have over the last few years if he hadn’t done what he did. I’ll be forever grateful to him for that.”
Andy added: “It was such a pleasure to see Paul again under much happier circumstances. We don’t often get to meet our patients again and I’m so pleased to see him doing so well.”
Since that fateful day, Paul has dedicated his time to raising awareness of pulmonary embolism through his work with charity Thrombosis UK, which aims to promote awareness and research into thrombosis conditions like pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. Now a charity Board member, he is committed to sharing his story. “I want to do everything I can to put pulmonary embolism in the public sphere,” says Paul, who described having a PE as feeling like ‘drowning without being underwater.’
“I never expected my life to go the way it has, but by doing something positive I hope I can help others to recognise the condition quickly.”
A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the pulmonary artery, the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. This blockage – usually a blood clot – can be life-threatening because it can prevent blood from reaching the lungs.
For more information, visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk, http://www.thrombosisuk.org/, or http://www.worldthrombosisday.org/