On the 23rd March 2019, Reg and his wife Doreen Gunnell popped out for a spot of lunch in Aldridge, Walsall. The day was very normal until Reg took poorly and collapsed having suffered a cardiac arrest. In the same tearoom happened to be husband and wife Leigh (Paramedic) and Joanna (Nurse). Both sprang into action and immediately started performing basic life support. A 999 call was made, and a member of the public was instructed to go and fetch a nearby defibrillator located 100 meters away on the exterior wall of the COOP, Lazy Hill. After receiving CPR and 1 shock from the defibrillator Reg started to show signs of life and within 10 minutes, he was sat up talking unaware of what had just happened. Reg had just died, he had lost consciousness, stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating normally but due to the early access of vital treatment, his life was saved.

The community defibrillator used to help Reg was placed by Rachel Dingle; the sister of Alex Brown who very sadly lost his life to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome aged 25. After losing Alex, Rachel started a campaign called CRYALEX to help increase awareness and raise funds to support the placement of community defibrillators. Rachel has also arranged numerous heart screening sessions that are designed to detect heart abnormalities, allowing treatment to take place and preventing more serious harm to many individuals.

The defibrillator was funded after 15 kind-hearted people cycled 56 miles from London to Brighton to help raise the funds to place it.

On the 18th June Reg was able to thank the people who saved his life.

Rachel said “seeing Reg standing in front of me felt incredible. My intention for CRYALEX was to save lives to prevent heartbreak. The impromptu kiss from Reg’s wife brought me to tears. Reg is loved just like my brother Alex was, only now all I’m left with are cherished memories, so to be able to play a part in Reg continuing his life with all those that love him brings me comfort. It feels like I’ve come full circle. I’m incredibly proud of what CRYALEX is achieving and the priceless legacy that Alex is leaving and will continue to leave for many years to come”

Reg was transported to the hospital and spent 19 days recovering under the watchful eye of the nursing staff. After some lifestyle changes, Reg continues to live his life and expressed his gratitude to everyone that had played a part in saving his life.

A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time and following the four steps in the chain of survival can help to increase the patient chances of survival.

  • Call 999
  • Commence CPR
  • Early Defibrillation
  • Early Advanced Life Support

Defibrillators are easy to use and come with either verbal or visual step by step instructions. The machines are designed to be used by anyone with or without prior training. Anyone needing a defibrillator should call 999 in the first instance and the call handler will advise where the nearest one is and how to access it. If effective CPR and a defibrillator can be applied within the first 3-5 minutes of collapse the chances of survival for the victim can increase from 6%-74%. Without immediate treatment, 90%-95% of patients will die.

Jamie Richards, CEO AEDdonate said “in the 5 years we’ve been placing defibrillators we have heard of many people who have been saved by one of our machines, but to stand in front of someone and hear them tell their story face to face brings an emotion I could never have imagined. Reg and his wife are truly lovely people and it was fantastic to share their company. We work every day to place defibrillators across the country with one aim and that’s to save lives. We want every community to be protected and we would urge anyone thinking about getting one to get in touch to see how we can help”

Reg, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you and your lovely wife and we send all our very best wishes for the future.