Steve Sadler, a 58-year-old avid runner, found himself in a potentially life-threatening situation whilst training for the Manchester Marathon in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. His remarkable journey from crisis to recovery, facilitated by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA), will be featured in the upcoming episode of “Helicopter ER” airing on 27th October.
Committed to his rigorous training program, Steve embarked on a routine training run around his local village of Carperby near Leyburn. Just one mile into his run, he began to feel dizzy and unwell, eventually collapsing.
Upon regaining consciousness, Steve managed to carefully make his way back to his home, where his wife promptly called 999 for help. The YAA critical care crew, stationed at their Topcliffe air support unit near Thirsk, immediately dispatched their helicopter to reach Steve who was in a remote location.
Arriving at the scene, YAA Paramedics found Steve in a dire condition, lying on his living room floor, pale, clammy, and experiencing dizziness and nausea. During the 999 call, Steve’s heart rate was reported to be approximately 40 beats per minute, but an at the scene heart trace detected an alarming heart rate of 230 bpm, nearly three times higher than expected. His oxygen levels were also alarmingly low at 70, and his blood pressure was untraceable.
The YAA medical team administered medication to attempt to slow Steve’s heart rate down, remarking, “When we arrived, Steve was critically unwell. I have never seen a patient with this kind of heart rate still awake and conscious. I was deeply concerned he was going to go into cardiac arrest at this point.”
Steve’s condition continued to worsen during the short flight to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, 35 miles away. His heart rate surged to nearly 260 bpm, causing significant concern amongst the crew. Paramedic Georgina emphasised, “The concerning aspect of maintaining such an elevated heart rate is that the body’s resources become depleted rapidly. When your heart rate is elevated, it demands a significant amount of energy to sustain that rhythm. Once that energy reserve is exhausted, it often leads to a complete shutdown, with the heart coming to a halt.”
After six days in the hospital, doctors diagnosed Steve’s heart condition as a short circuit, requiring the installation of an implantable defibrillator. The ordeal forced him to take a three-month break from work and abandon his marathon training, much to his disappointment.
Steve shared his experience, “I went from feeling fantastic to suddenly overwhelmed by extreme dizziness and passing out. Somehow, I managed to make it back to my house – I am not even sure how I made it home, I was just determined to get home. The medical advice I received was crystal clear – no more running. It was a seismic shift in my life, given that running was my number one passion. Adapting to this new reality has been quite a difficult journey.”
He continued, “The sight of the yellow helicopter is a common one for many residents in rural North Yorkshire, particularly in the Dales. However, I never once expected to be the one needing its services. You never think it could be you. If someone had told me just hours before that I would be in an air ambulance en route to James Cook Hospital, I would have found it unimaginable. It’s a stark reminder that life can change in an instant. I am eternally thankful to the incredible team at Yorkshire Air Ambulance, and I’ll forever champion the outstanding work this charity does.”
Steve’s incredible story of survival serves as a powerful reminder of the vital services provided by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the critical role they play in saving lives, often in the most challenging situations.