For 15 years, our responders have been involved in saving lives, in fact they are called out to around 3,500 accidents and emergencies every single year. Due to the confidential nature of their work it’s often difficult to share these stories. However, there are times when individuals or their family get in-touch to let us know how much they value our support. These are some of those stories.

Gillian’s story

gillianGillian McKenzie was 42 years old when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest outside her Stonehaven home. She had shown no early symptoms and so her collapse came out of the blue.

Gillian was with her 3 very young children when she collapsed in her driveway. Her quick thinking six-year-old son, Struan, immediately alerted his mums best friend and neighbour, Jackie.

Having called 999, Jackie was guided through CPR by the call handler and with the help of passer-by, Craig, they continued to give lifesaving CPR. What they didn’t know was that a road traffic accident was preventing both a city and Stonehaven ambulance from getting to the scene.

Fortunately, Local GPs, Dr. Kris McLaughlin and  Dr. Stuart Reary were equipped with a Sandpiper bag and arrived within five minutes of the 999 call.

The GP’s were able to administer defibrillator shocks which ultimately restarted Jackie’s heart and brought her back to life.

A combination of Struan’s quick thinking, Jackie & Craig’s ongoing CPR and the GP’s defibrillator shock, saved Gillian’s life.

The local Sandpiper equipped GP’s went on to work with the ambulance medics when they arrived on the scene too.

Gillian and Jackie are now Sandpiper ambassadors

Gillian went on to make a full recovery and both herself and Jackie, have become staunch supporters of the Sandpiper Trust.

“When you call 999 you know the emergency services are working hard to get to you, but it’s not always possible to get there as quickly as you need. Sandpiper responders plug that gap, additional training and equipment, including a vital defibrillator, is given by the Sandpiper Trust and the ambulance service can call them out” explained Gillian.

She continued “Words cannot describe how indebted I am to Sandpiper, my story might have ended completely differently if it wasn’t for them.”

You can view Gillian’s story here. It’s told through a series of interviews with the individuals involved and takes you through what happened step by step from the point of Struan knocking on Jackie’s door to a very happy outcome.

Warning: some viewers may find this video distressing as it does contain part of the live telephone recording of the incident which was kindly provided by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Laura’s story

In 2009, 35-year-old Laura Anderson had reason to feel relieved and extremely fortunate that a doctor with a Sandpiper Bag was in attendance when her car came off the dual carriage way on the A90 Aberdeen to Stonehaven Road. Laura’s legs were badly crushed and trapped by the bodywork.

Although paramedics were on the scene quickly, medical treatment was hampered because they were unable to remove Laura from the wreckage. After her heart stopped and she had to be resuscitated, the medical team made the decision to amputate Laura’s foot at the scene. Dr. Mark Bloch, an A & E consultant anaesthetist equipped with a Sandpiper bag kept Laura breathing and administered pain relief. On arrival at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Laura’s heart stopped again and once more she had to be resuscitated. The decision to cut off her left leg below the knee was taken. Mark remained with Laura during this time. Laura spent 10 weeks in hospital where she had a prosthetic limb fitted but since then she has made a remarkable recovery and is back behind the wheel.

Laura publicly thanked Sandpiper

At Sandpiper’s tenth anniversary reception in Aberdeen, Laura bravely spoke about her ordeal and praised everyone involved in her rescue. Speaking of the late Mark Bloch, she said “Mark was one in a million, I owe my life to him. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here today and I am honoured that I met him.”

Bernard’s story

bernardGolfer Bernard Gallacher is a high profile Sandpiper survivor. In August 2013, while attending a Future Energy Golf Event at the Marcliffe, he fell ill. Quick thinking members of the public recognized that he had suffered a cardiac arrest and had started life saving treatment.

Alongside the ambulance team, Sandpiper responder & A&E anaesthetist, Dr Mark Bloch, arrived shortly afterwards having receiving the 999 call.

En route to the hospital, Bernhard suffered three further cardiac arrests in the ambulance and was resuscitated each time by Mark.

Following the incident, Mark said “I took him to accident and emergency at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, from there to the intensive care unit. The ambulance team was outstanding and the members of the public who had started the life support made a vital contribution. It’s the team effort.”

Bernhard went on to spend five days in a medically-induced coma at ARI while his wife Lesley and children, Jamie, Laura and Sky Sports presenter Kirsty, remained at his bedside.

Full recovery

Since recovering, Bernhard has also paid tribute to Colin Leyden, the defibrillator salesman who was able to use the Marcliffe’s device to keep the golfer alive until Mark and his team arrived.

Bernhard has since been fitted with an implantable defibrillator since the cardiac arrests and the device has already been activated twice after washing the car and playing a round of golf.

Feeling inspired?

If you feel inspired to help us to continue making a difference then please get in-touch, we’d love to hear from you. Otherwise, you’ll find everything you need to know about fundraising for us, volunteering with us or donating, here on our website.