Monday 9th August 2021 began like any other day for Ryan Nelson from Lurgan Co Armagh. Ryan was a fit and healthy 43-year-old who loved his football and being outdoors.  He had just arrived home that morning with a coffee for his wife, Vivienne, when without any warning he took sudden cardiac arrest on his doorstep. He was unconscious and unresponsive at the scene.

Ryan’s 15-year-old son, Corey, called 999 and alerted the emergency services immediately.  The controller at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) talked Corey through lifesaving CPR which he relayed to Ryan’s neighbour Michael McLoughlin who worked on Ryan with another neighbour and nurse, Siobhan Totton.  NIAS road ambulance paramedics arrived, followed by the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) team. A defibrillator was used to shock Ryan’s heart.

The HEMS team were able to provide further critical care treatment to Ryan within minutes of arriving on Ryan’s doorstep. Having stabilised his condition Ryan was then transported to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast for further treatment and care.  He was fitted with an Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD device) is recovering well and slowly adapting to life. He is very grateful to be back home with his wife, Vivienne, son Corey (15) and daughters, Hollie (13) and Evie (9).

Ryan said of the incident ‘’ I’ve heard that only 1 in 10 people suffering a cardiac arrest outside of hospital survive, so the odds were against me. CPR really made the difference, and I would like to encourage everyone to learn about CPR and familiarise themselves with defibrillators, as you never know when it could be needed. I will be forever grateful to the chain of people involved in saving my life that day.  The quick response from my family, neighbours, paramedics, and the HEMS team was critical and I am extremely fortunate to come through this ordeal.’’

Ryan’s wife Vivienne went on to say, “I heard of cases where the air ambulance crew have been needed on the news or on social media, but you never ever think it will happen to you. Ryan was a normal healthy 43-year-old with no previous health issues or problems. Witnessing a cardiac arrest has been the most traumatic experience my family have ever had. But if not for the chain of events that day Ryan wouldn’t be here now.  I am forever grateful to everyone involved that day and in particular to the HEMS team for the lifesaving treatment they provided on my doorstep.’’

The family were so grateful to the HEMS team at Air Ambulance NI that they decided to take action and raise funds to ensure more people have access to this life-saving service in the future.  Vivienne and the Nelson family started the “Mission Critical” appeal on Just Giving and Facebook to tell their story and raise funds for the charity.  They held fundraising nights, raffled off amazing gifts donated to the appeal, Ryan’s sister, Roisin Wilkinson, held a very successful spinathon at the Spar, Aghagallon and Vivienne’s best friend, Laura McConville, took part in the Belfast City Marathon. 

Vivienne wanted to thank everyone for their support, “People have been incredibly kind and generous.  We have been gifted so much locally through businesses, people getting in touch through Facebook wanting to support the charity, family members getting support through their workplaces and so many people contacting us telling their own stories of being helped by the HEMS team at Air Ambulance NI.”

The family want to sincerely thank every single person who have helped them raise now over £17,339 for the charity which they were delighted to present to the Air Ambulance NI team in Lisburn.

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