Gateshead businessman thanks off-duty NHS heroes

Posted on Fri, 04/10/2019

A Gateshead businessman paid an emotional visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital today (Friday October 4) to say a personal thank you to the NHS staff who saved his life when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Off-duty heroes, Pippa Hocking and Stephen Armstrong, told how their CPR training kicked into action when Hamid Khazaee collapsed in front of them as they stood in line for a takeaway.

Pippa, a staff nurse at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Stephen, an emergency care assistant with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), had been on an evening out with friends when they called into Simply Grill in Low Fell.

As they waited in the queue, the shop owner, Mr Khazaee, suddenly collapsed and they rushed to help - performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until ambulance crews arrived seven minutes later.

The 62-year-old from Riding Mill, Northumberland, launched an emotional media appeal from his hospital bed to find the mystery woman in the “red spotty dress” who had been photographed by bystanders, as he wished to thank her for saving his life.

Today, (Friday October 4) Mr Khazaee and his daughter, Natasha, returned to the Emergency Care Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he was brought by the NEAS ambulance crews to say thank you to all involved in his care.

Mr Khazaee, of Riding Mill, Northumberland, said: “How do you say thank you to those who can give you back your life? They are my family now. Without Pippa and Stephen I simply would not be here today. It is a miracle that they were there at the right time. As soon as I found out what happened, I wanted to meet them in person to say thank you.”

Natasha, his daughter, who lives in Hexham, added: “He is recovering really well and it is almost hard to believe that his heart had stopped beating for so long.

“You hear about these sorts of things, but until it happens to you - I don’t think you can really appreciate how important CPR training is. It is great to meet Pippa and Stephen, and all the other staff who helped care for him, so that we can say thank you for what they have done for our family.”

Mum-of-one, Pippa, from Stanley, County Durham, who has worked as a nurse for three years, said: “It’s absolutely amazing to see that he is doing so well.

“We were waiting to order when he collapsed behind the counter.  I knew what had happened straight away, so my nursing training just kicked in.

“Stephen started CPR while I checked for a pulse and then I took over. We brought him back once, but then lost him again and carried on until the ambulance crews arrived. They shocked him and got his heart back into a rhythm and then took him to the QE. We then stayed behind, closed the ovens, and shut up the shop. 

“When you work as a nurse, you are never off-duty. It was just a case of being in the right place at the right time.”

Stephen, from Gateshead, has been an emergency care assistant for four years. He said: “When we went into the shop, we saw him collapse and we took it in turn to provide CPR.  We asked a bystander to call for an ambulance and we continued until my colleagues arrived a couple of minutes later.

“We didn’t even think about what we had done – we automatically knew he needed urgent help. I’m delighted that he’s making such a good recovery.”

The incident happened at around 2am on Sunday, September 22 and Hamid was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital before being taken to the Freeman Hospital where he underwent heart surgery.

Pippa added: “It was a surprise to find out about the media appeal, but I was so pleased to hear he was going to be OK. It’s often the case, working in A&E, that you don’t hear about the outcomes for patients, so both myself and the whole A&E team are delighted to see how well he is recovering.

“I’ve been contacted by quite a few people after they saw the article. One was my lecturer from university. She reminded me that one of the first things I said to her was that I became a nurse as I wanted to make a difference. To see Hamid back with his family like this is wonderful and it is nice to feel I’ve played a part in that.

“We do CPR day-in-day-out in A&E, but at the same time, I also knew that the chances of surviving an out-of-hospital heart attack are just one in 10, so we were still very worried about him.

“It just goes to show how important CPR training is. As soon as I finished my nursing training, I taught my daughter CPR. Even if you just try it, you are giving the person a chance – it really is the difference between life and death.”

You can watch the moment they Hamid was reunited with Pippa and Stephen here.

Listen to the full interview on BBC Radio Newcastle with Rebecca O'Neill here.

Further information

When someone’s heart stops beating (cardiac arrest), blood and therefore oxygen is not being transported to vital organs, including the brain. This is why somebody quickly starting CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is so important.

Pressing hard onto the chest compresses the heart underneath, pushing blood around the body, and buys time for the patient. Most patients will require a shock from a defibrillator to get their heart back into a normal rhythm, but without early CPR, permanent damage to organs, including the brain, will start to occur within 4 to 5 minutes.

In England, the cardiac arrest survival rate is only around 8%, where as in other countries across Europe, the rate is above 50%, as more people know CPR and the greater availability of public access defibrillators.

This is why this month, NEAS is coordinating events across the region for international Restart a Heart Day, which is on the 16 October 2019. The aim is to get as many people as possible trained in CPR on or around that time.

The NEAS Trust Fund is also helping by offering some partial funding for communities wanting to purchase a public access defibrillator in key areas. 

What to do If someone collapses, this is what you need to do:

Make sure it’s safe to approach the patient

Try to wake them up by talking to them loudly, and giving them a gentle shake

If you can’t wake them, make sure they are on their back

Place one hand on their forehead and the fingertips of the other hand under the chin. Gently tilt their head back whilst lifting their chin to open the airway
Put your ear next to their mouth, and look down their chest. Look, listen and feel for normal breathing for no more than 10 seconds. Normal breathing is quiet and regular, and the person should take between 2 & 3 breaths in that time

Ensure that someone has called 999 and requested an ambulance. They will help guide you through CPR and will tell you if there is a defibrillator nearby
Kneel beside the person, place the heel of your hand in the middle of the chest, with the other hand on top, interlocking your fingers. Keep your arms straight, and your shoulders directly above your hands. Press down to a depth of 5-6cm, and allow the chest to rise back. Continue with these compressions at a rate of 100 – 120 per minute or approximately 2 a second

If you are untrained or unable to do rescue breaths, just continue doing the compressions.

If a defibrillator is available, turn it on and follow the instructions 

More details can be found on the NEAS website about Restart a Heart, public access defibrillators and first aid training:

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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