Heroic efforts of staff team save customer’s life

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 19 October 2020 8:57

Brian Bullingham’s trip to Hewlett Road Dental Practice was meant to be just a check-up, but it turned into anything but routine.

Within minutes of arriving at the practice he had suffered a cardiac arrest and said if the staff team at the Cheltenham practice had not stepped in he would simply not be here to tell the tale.

Realising immediately something was wrong the staff’s training kicked in, with everyone from the receptionist and nurses to dentist Chris Hugh working to bring Mr Bullingham back to life.

According to the British Heart Foundation in the UK there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests a year outside of hospital with less than one in 10 victims surviving to be discharged from hospital.

“I am eighty, but I play county tennis and golf regularly and I have never smoked, so it came quite out of the blue,” said Mr Bullingham, 80, a father of three who retired from GCHQ 20 years previously.

“I had played a game of tennis that week and 18 holes of golf. I was walking up to the dentist when I suddenly realised I might be a bit late, so jogged the last little bit.

“When I got there I rang the doorbell. I don’t actually remember anything from there. I am told I came up to reception and chatted with the staff normally and then sat down.

“The next thing I remember was going along the Golden Valley in an ambulance.”

He added: “I know now that if it was not for the staff at the practice, who I have since been able to go back to thank, it would have been a different story."

Chris Hugh, 28, the dentist on duty on the day, said he and colleagues were in the process of ensuring everything was covid-safe to receive the next patient when a colleague raised the alarm: “I was in the surgery, just cleaning everything down after our last patient and getting everything ready when we heard a call from reception for assistance.

“I ran down and it was obvious as soon as I saw Mr Bullingham he was really not well. We immediately got him onto the floor to perform CPR, and everyone just fell into their roles.

“We worked really well together. One of the nurses immediately phoned the ambulance, another got the defibrillator ready and the hygienist kept an eye out for the ambulance.

“We do training all the time and run through different scenarios, it is just part of how we work, but you hope you never have to use it. You just do not expect this sort of thing to happen.

“We needed two shocks using the defibrillator, but luckily we had a good response, he started breathing again and his pulse came back and we were able to hand over to the paramedics when they arrived.”

Mr Bullingham is now on the road to recovery, and even popped in to the Hewlett Road Dental Practice to say thank you in person – bringing with him some flowers and chocolates for the staff.

“It was great to see him and it meant a lot to us all to see how well he looked. We are grateful to him for doing that,” said Mr Hugh.