Wife of Northumberland cardiac arrest survivor thanks the people who saved her husband's life

The wife of a man who suffered a cardiac arrest while on their local beach near Berwick has praised the people who collectively saved his life.
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Tracey Snell, 48, from Scremerston, had travelled to Cocklawburn Beach in November last year with her husband Brian Snell, 67, who is affectionately known as ‘Bounce’.

She was planning to walk their dog, Teddy, while her husband collected and chopped up firewood that had swept up on the beach.

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However, the sound of his chainsaw stopped prematurely, so she returned to the car to find her husband slumped over.

Brian Snell in hospital with daughter Millie, daughter Olivia and wife Tracey.Brian Snell in hospital with daughter Millie, daughter Olivia and wife Tracey.
Brian Snell in hospital with daughter Millie, daughter Olivia and wife Tracey.

She said: “His face was the darkest blue and it was bright red around his lips and his eyes were glazed over. I used to be a nurse and I could see he wasn’t breathing, and it was very scary.”

Mrs Snell rang for an ambulance and while on the phone she flagged down a couple of members of the public who were nearby, and they began performing CPR on her husband.

Paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) arrived on scene and used a defibrillator on Mr Snell to help restart his heart.

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Mrs Snell said: “The paramedics did a sterling job taking over the resuscitation, though it took several attempts with the defibrillator and five more minutes of chest compressions from a local man called Neil before they finally got a pulse. Several minutes in his heart stopped again, but still they persevered and eventually got it restarted for the second time.”

Brian and Tracey Snell.Brian and Tracey Snell.
Brian and Tracey Snell.

In addition to NEAS, Berwick Coastguard Rescue Team and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) were requested to attend the scene and arrived shortly afterwards.

Mrs Snell said: “As soon as the team from GNAAS arrived, they took over from that point and said they were going to sedate him to prevent him thrashing about and get him on the helicopter. They had landed on the road so he was able to be carried, but it took several people to lift him.

“I know they don’t tend to let on how bad it is, but they were talking to me and reassuring me, and everyone was fantastic. I gave him a little kiss and saw him being placed inside the helicopter before they flew him to hospital.”

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Mr Snell was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where he remained in an induced coma for three days.

He has no recollection of the events that happened and despite breaking a few ribs from the CPR, he is grateful to be alive and is now back home making slow and steady progress.

Mrs Snell added: “For those two people who helped me perform CPR on my husband’s lifeless body for 15 minutes, the medical professionals have told me that we categorically saved his life. He would not have made it if we hadn’t maintained that level of care in those vital moments.

“I would like to say the most heartfelt thank you to the amazing GNAAS crew, NEAS paramedics, HM Coastguard, the police and a couple members of the public who came selflessly to my assistance.”

Dr Lyle Moncur from GNAAS added: “We are so glad to hear that Bounce is doing well and we were able to play our part in the chain of survival.”