Man meets ambulance crew who helped to save his life

Lee Cottingham Reunion SUS-171214-114146001
Lee Cottingham Reunion SUS-171214-114146001

An Etchingham worker who collapsed suddenly in cardiac arrest has been reunited with the South East Coast Ambulance Service, (SECAmb), crews who helped save his life.

Lee Cottingham, from Lower Dicker, now aged 45, collapsed in farm buildings in Etchingham, in June 2015.

He has gone on to make an amazing recovery and returned to work just four months later as a domestic assistant in a nursing home.

The reunion, which took place recently at the Trust’s Polegate Make Ready Centre, came about after a chance encounter at a local Community First Responders event.

The team was able to put him in touch with Hurst Green Community First Responder, Gary Spray, who was first to arrive at the scene of Lee’s collapse. Gary immediately began life-saving treatment, continuing the CPR administered by one of Lee’s friends, and used a defibrillator to restart his heart.

Gary was joined at the scene by SECAmb Critical Care Paramedic, Tom Strivens, moments before colleagues, Philip Ibrahim, Phillip Webb, Amanda Paine and Suzannah Hulin attended the scene.

Lee was delighted to meet with the SECAmb team to thank them in person and said: “Words can’t describe how grateful I am to every single person who helped me. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone.

Gary said: “The feeling that you have made a difference to somebody’s life and family close to your community makes me proud to be able to hang up my suit from my day job and respond as a CFR.

“The words that stick with me following speaking to Lee is that he now has two birthdays, with his second being the day we gave him a second chance in life.”

On the back of the incident with Lee, Hurst Green and District Responders have installed a Public Access Defibrillator in Etchingham and each surrounding village.

Lee attended the reunion with fiancée Kaylie, who he’ll marry in August 2018.

He added: “It was great to see everyone face-to-face and I know I’m just one of so many people who have been helped by the ambulance service. Thank you to ambulance crews across the whole country. They don’t get enough praise and they do such an amazing job.”

Tom Strivens said: “Lee has made a great recovery and it was really good to see him upright and looking so well.