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Every time a 999 call is made, our rescue services are ready to react.
They need skill and speed - every second counts when rushing to a call or speeding someone to safety.
Tonight we get closer than ever to the emergency frontline.
This is Real Rescues.
Tonight, Richard is having a heart attack.
His treatment is about to break a few records.
He'll be undergoing life-saving surgery within 20 minutes.
We're holding off with these drugs as we're going straight into surgery.
A family day out comes to a terrifying end when their car spins across three lanes,
leaving Mum worried sick about her five-week-old baby.
We've got an ambulance coming. Calm down.
And a cat on a high town roof.
Bobby the escapologist puts the professionals through their paces.
Here he goes. He's off now. He's gone!
A ambulance is like a compact and mobile A&E department.
In an emergency, they have all the equipment needed to check out what's happening to our bodies.
The rescue we're about to see shows what happens inside when a patient is having a heart attack.
Four highly-trained ambulance crew are working flat out to save this man's life.
-My colleague said that you had been jogging. Had you?
-And what happened?
-I was fine.
-I came in, had a cup of tea, had a shower and a shave...
-I started to get undressed and I got this pain in my chest.
Richard is in pain.
He's 64 and a TV presenter with British Forces Broadcasting.
-Can I lie down, please?
-Can you lean forward a wee bit? That's it.
The crew are getting an electrical reading from Richard's heart.
Looking at our ECG, it indicates that you've had a heart attack.
As I explained, we've got some drugs that we can give you now
-to start busting those clots. OK?
-So the treatment can get started right away.
The clot-busting drugs could save Richard's life, but they're not without risk.
Paramedic Lucy Dobson must explain the possible side effects of this drug.
The biggest risk is stroke, for 1 patient in 200...
I don't think I want the injection.
The ambulance crew must abide by Richard's decision not to have the injection.
-Now his wife Claire has arrived.
-You just got here in time. We're taking Richard to QA's Hospital.
It's very clear that you've had a heart attack.
It's your right, but you've declined for us to give you the drugs to blast the clots out.
What? He's declined? They said I could have a stroke.
It's a side effect.
As Claire is updated, the matter of the drug becomes irrelevant.
The hospital had radioed through. The cardiology team has a slot free.
If they can get him there quickly enough, he can go straight to theatre.
I've spoken to the consultant at the hospital and we're going straight to the lab.
They put wire from your groin into the artery,
and then they, basically, blast it away.
-That's if I really have had a heart attack!
It's a lot for Richard and Claire to take in. Every minute, Richard's heart could be dying.
For now, the crew have done all they can.
We've caught everything in time. We got there quickly, done our bit.
-They'll do their bit and you'll be up and jumping around.
-I hope so.
We'll hand over in there.
Cardiologist Dr Philip Strike and his team are waiting for Richard as he arrives at the hospital.
His life is now in their hands.
We'll stay with Richard as they carry out the surgery that he so urgently needs.
It's a filthy day. Traffic cop Jerry Bryan is on his way to a car that's aquaplaned across the motorway.
All we know is the car hit the central res...
and now it's gone up the bank.
Foxtrot Sierra Double One, over.
The breakdown truck is already on the scene. They saw the accident happen.
A car has hit water on the road
and spun across three motorway lanes, ending up behind the barrier facing the other way.
Inside the car was a young family, including a four-year-old girl and a young baby.
The children and Dad are taking refuge in the breakdown truck, but Mum Kelly is beside herself.
We've got an ambulance coming. Calm down.
-Five-week-old or five-month-old?
It's a five-week-old baby, yeah.
The car is severely damaged. It somehow smashed through the end of the barrier and up the bank.
The tiny baby and the rest of the family are waiting in the recovery vehicle for the ambulance crew.
Only then will they be reassured that their newborn has escaped injury.
Jerry needs to close down lane one so that the emergency services have space to work in safety.
It's no easy job in these conditions.
I may need your help when the ambulance comes!
-Paramedic Georgina McDonald has arrived in the rapid response vehicle.
-They've actually hit
the end of the barrier. You know these new ends? She ripped off the end of the car on that.
It's an excessively hard front impact. We're a bit concerned. The five-week-old is very quiet.
The paramedics are looking after the baby, so Jerry can now get on with finding out what happened.
-Did you roll at all?
-I haven't got a clue, to be honest.
We know you've hit the end of here cos you can see the marks.
-I'm not trying to catch you out. What speed were you doing?
-I'm not sure. I wasn't going stupid speeds.
Cos they will ask because of this. They'll want to know for your kid.
-How are you doing? Are you hurt in any way?
-No, my neck's a bit stiff.
-We'll get you checked out.
We've got a couple of ambulance people. That's more important.
They'll sort it. Let's get you done now as well for your neck. That's a hard impact.
Two doctors have arrived and are attending to Kelly and her children.
-How did the car actually...?
-They hit that end of the barrier and it's spun them.
He's come up sideways, backwards. You can see some tyre marks.
-Lucky. Lucky that they're not like that.
-They're very shocked, but...
-Shaken, but not stirred.
It looks like they've been incredibly lucky. The doctors are both happy that they're all OK.
The five-week-old baby has been oblivious throughout all the drama.
It shows that a car can survive quite major impact
and protect the occupants, as long as people are wearing their seatbelts
and the children are in proper car seats, properly belted in.
There's a huge sense of relief. What could have been a family tragedy ended up with no serious casualties.
You all right?
You've been very brave.
-Aren't you? I'll shut this door, keep you warm.
-No problem at all.
With the family safe, Jerry just has to concentrate on getting the road cleared.
Luckily, no-one was injured. Just barrier damage.
And the car. Barriers, cars, they can be replaced. People can't.
We're with the Great North Air Ambulance at Durham Tees Valley Airport.
Nearly a quarter of all the rescues they attend involve motorcyclists,
and they're heading out to another one now.
Reports of one patient with a serious head injury
and a large open wound to his neck.
There is a road crew on scene,
and they are requesting air support.
So approximately about 17 to 18 minutes' flight away from Teesside.
The scene of the crash is obscured by trees.
As they get nearer, Paul and pilot Matt Takin
look for a landing place as close as possible to their patient.
What I'll do is we'll relocate.
If you drop me off here, I'll get the police to shut the road off and we'll relocate.
-Good to go?
-Good to go, mate.
Matt drops Paul off at a nearby field and then waits till the police have closed the road completely.
He's then able to put down on a bridge a few yards from the scene.
Inside the ambulance, the crew are fighting to save biker Keith Nixon's life.
His lung has collapsed and he's bleeding from the neck and thigh.
Paul gets stuck in to help them straightaway.
His lung has actually collapsed,
but the cavity was still filling with air.
It is a life threatening condition.
We've got to do a procedure where we've got to decompress the chest
with a large bore needle and let the air out.
Hopefully that will help with his breathing.
I want to put a pelvic on him.
You want a SAM splint?
Gordon gets the SAM splint from his bag.
They're used for keeping the pelvis immobile.
Once we cut his leathers off, we also found wounds to his right groin.
That was bleeding quite profusely.
So we had to dress them as well, as quickly as possible.
They've got very little time to work with.
Keith's losing blood fast from an arterial wound.
They know it's painful but his groans are a good sign.
At least he's conscious.
I'll just put a belt on you.
All right, you're all right.
They've done all they can for Keith at the scene.
Paul radios details of his injuries to their colleague,
who will alert the hospital.
He's got a deep laceration to his left side neck,
deep laceration to his right femoral groin area.
Query fractured pelvis.
ETA approximately 15 minutes, over.
'Yeah, I've got them on standby.'
-Slide him along.
They're still working as fast as they possibly can and Keith's beginning to respond,
but there's one more thing they need to do
before he can go onboard the helicopter.
Not your arm, it's your leathers!
His observations are stable at the moment.
His blood pressure is raising up, which we are pleased about.
We need to get him in as soon as possible, to see the surgeons
about these cuts and this problem with his chest and pelvis.
Open your eyes for me.
Keith's now stable enough for the journey.
Right, let's go.
They're on their way to a hospital where the injured biker will need emergency surgery.
Back at the scene, they've discovered what caused the crash.
He's took the bend but there was
a sort of log, or a bit of debris in the middle of the road.
He's hit that which has made the bike wobble
and he's managed to slide down the road as the bike's hit the tree. He's lucky he came off the bike
before he hit the tree because his injuries would have been a lot worse if he had hit the tree.
Keith's being well looked after.
We'll be getting a bulletin on his progress from the hospital.
We're back with 64-year-old Richard Astbury. Less than an hour ago, he started to have chest pains.
-I can't believe I'm having a heart attack!
-We're going to just wire you up and have a look.
-Dr Philip Strike is in charge.
-We'll take some pictures of the coronary artery,
see where they're blocked and aim to stretch it open with a balloon and put a stent in.
With their part complete, the ambulance crew can now relax.
Thank you. I'm really grateful for all you've done.
Unusually, they get the chance to see this treatment through from behind the control room screen.
Richard has been given a local anaesthetic, but he's still wide awake and talking.
Moving his legs is giving them problems.
-You're fighting me and making my life much more difficult.
Philip is trying to feed a wire into Richard's groin to do the angioplasty.
-Is that just where the block is? Ah, right. You can see it.
-Yeah, there it is.
There can now be no doubt at all that Richard's heart attack is real.
The main artery down the front of his heart is totally blocked.
The next job is to open it up.
On the monitor, the special balloon inserted into the artery to stretch it is clearly visible.
We're doing very nicely. We're very happy.
-We've got that blocked artery open. Lovely.
-I'm behaving all right?
They then use a special catheter to suck the blood clot out.
It's amazing, isn't it?
The artery is now completely clear.
How are you?
Is that pain any better? It should be.
That artery's wide open now. We're very happy.
Next the surgeons need to check how strongly Richard's heart is beating.
There's a hot flush coming your way.
They're pushing X-ray dye into the heart's main pumping chamber to make sure all is well.
That's it finished, OK? Good.
So you did have a heart attack.
And the main artery down the front of your heart was blocked.
But you could get a bus down it now.
Richard's been given his life back, but will have to change it as well. We'll talk to him later.
That was a frightening experience.
Well, they said I could have died!
Fire crews are trained to rescue people trapped in all kinds of situations.
They even have a specialist animal rescue unit.
Of course the fire crews get a lot of stick for rescuing cats stuck up trees but, if you think about it,
it's good training for them especially when the cat has decided to climb to this kind of height.
Animal rescue specialist Jim Green is heading out to Portsmouth after a call from the RSPCA.
Not for the first time, a cat is stuck, this one is about 40 ft up on the roof of a three-storey house.
Jim arrives at the residential street in Southsea, where he's met by Karen Gregor from the RSPCA.
-This one here?
She shows him where Bobby the cat is. It's hard enough to spot him, let alone get to him.
Bobby is only a year old.
Owner Felicity Crabbe has already spent one anxious night.
The reason why he got out is we moved in on Saturday and he escaped.
I don't know how he got out but he got out and I know you're meant
to keep them in for a week but he came back so I thought,
"There's no point keeping him as he's already been out and he's come back." We let him out yesterday
and it got to six o'clock and I was worried because he's in by then for his dinner.
Then we came out and we heard him meowing,
so I phoned the RSPCA and they said to leave some food out and hopefully he'd come down and he didn't.
And here we are.
Jim realises there's nothing else to do but get a ladder up to him.
Probably be a 135 for that one.
-How friendly is he?
-Oh, he's very friendly, yeah.
That's going to be quite an entertaining ladder pitch for the boys to get them out in.
We've got a cat on a chimney and I don't think there's any chance of it coming down on its own,
so I think I'm going to need a ladder, actually.
So this cat is going to cause a bit of work for a whole fire crew.
Sometimes putting a ladder up
is enough to shift the cat and make it realise
actually it can work its own way down.
Now the fire crews have arrived, Bobby is beginning to take some interest
in all the goings on.
This might seem...why are we wasting all these resources on a cat,
in actual fact it's good training for the fire-fighters because
when they do training in their fire stations and drill yards,
they have a nice tower to pitch ladders up against
but in reality, some of these are quite tricky to do.
You're nowhere near it yet, fellas.
Good, that sounds like it.
Very carefully, the almost fully extended ladder is lowered on to the stack.
Now Jim has to head up there. Bobby seems to be lying low.
Jim pulls up a cat basket but getting Bobby into it is going to take a lot of coaxing.
Hello, puss, puss.
Are you coming?
Come on, then.
Jim gets on first-name terms, but to no avail.
Come on, Bobby, come on, Bobby.
He needs to lift him up, but he isn't quite high enough
to be able to reach him up.
Come on, Bobby.
It splayed its back legs out
and wouldn't come through the chimney,
so we thought it was going to become a bit more of a drama.
The safety of Jim and his team is paramount
so they're calling in another engine with a hydraulic turntable platform.
In the meantime Jim heads back up, armed with goodies.
Down below, Bobby's exploits are attracting quite a bit of attention.
The aerial ladder is on the scene and swings into action.
Once they can get above the chimney pots, this rescue should be quite straightforward.
There he goes, he's off now, He's gone!
But no, Bobby's got other ideas.
The cat decided to launch itself across onto the chimney stack on the rear of the buildings.
I knew the access was diabolical from that side so I was not impressed.
This is what happens when you work with animals.
You can't communicate with them or tell them what you're going to do,
you can't ask them to do things for you, you just have to react to their reactions.
Felicity looks on.
It could be some time before Bobby is grounded.
We'll be back as Jim and the team try a different approach.
They're going to surround him.
In the hospital cath lab, heart attack patient Richard Astbury
recovers from an emergency procedure.
-Did you see much of what happened?
-Yes, we saw the whole thing.
Did you, really? I'm very glad I didn't. I'm a bit squeamish.
It's less than an hour since he first had chest pains and already he's getting back to his old self.
-Past medical problems? Diabetes?
-High blood pressure?
-I have diabetes insipidus.
-Very different from sugar diabetes.
-I know what it is. High blood pressure? High cholesterol?
Well, yes, but it... it's under control because of the medication I take.
-Any heart disease in the family?
-No. I like a drop of gin.
-All right. Thanks very much.
It's been a life-changing experience for Richard.
'I was frightened. I was very frightened indeed.'
I'd been told I was having a heart attack.
First thing I ask myself is am I going to be able to work again?
Can I walk again?
And the biggest thing that frightens me now, even now, after the heart attack, is
is it likely to happen again?
Well, there seems every reason to be optimistic. Surgeon Phil Strike explains how the operation
has not just unblocked an artery, but has substantially limited permanent long-term damage.
This is his left coronary artery and this artery runs down the front of the heart.
And there's an area here which is very severely narrowed and virtually blocked.
If we then just show you how we left it at the end...
We've opened that area completely and there's a stent in there.
Nice flow down that artery, all the way down,
and we've put a balloon in here, which is better. It's not perfect,
but we have a good result in this vessel. That'll keep him alive and stop further heart attacks.
And if we look at his heart at the end of our procedure, the heart is nice and strong,
it pumps very well. There may be a little area at the bottom damaged.
The amount of damage he's had is very small, so we're very pleased.
With any luck, Richard will be back home in a few days' time,
his heart and health restored by the very prompt actions of our emergency teams.
Back at a residential street,
Bobby the one-year-old ginger cat is evading capture.
Animal specialist Jim Green tried pulling him through the pots, but the gap was too narrow.
Then they called the hydraulic platform,
but Bobby scarpered over to the other chimney stack.
Now Jim and the firefighters are going to try a different approach.
What we're going to do is put a firefighter between the two chimneys
so that he can't just keep going backwards and forwards.
Just to the left of the chimney,
and if you can get me up higher up, by the pots,
I can reach over and grab him out of the middle.
So the third rescue plan swings into action.
One firefighter is put on the roof at the front of the house
to stop Bobby heading back to the front chimney,
while a second is landed on to the top of the dormer by the back stack.
Mind your head!
Jim is now overhead with a cat net to flush Bobby out.
-He's just put his paws out.
-Has he got his other one through yet?
No, he has put both paws over the loop.
Wait till he comes to you.
The plan is working.
Bobby makes a run for the front chimney, but his route is barred.
Grab him, that's it.
Round the scruff. Right, just cuddle him up there. Get hold of his scruff.
Bobby is caught.
Now, just pull it. That's it.
-Don't drop it!
-CHEERING FROM BELOW
Bobby's getting pretty vocal,
but his rescue is met with applause from down below.
We'll come back for you.
-Karen is not risking releasing Bobby outside again,
so she carries him back home for a reunion with owner Felicity.
-Shall I shut that door?
-Shut the door, just in case!
Don't do it again!
Bobby! Good boy.
Bobby is none the worse for his adventure, and it's just up to
Felicity to say her thank-yous on his behalf.
No problem at all.
Obviously we were relieved we managed to get the cat off the roof,
and the owner's response is always good
and we're always quite happy to see them smiling.
The firefighters that attended, they'd had a different afternoon,
shall we say? Learned a few bits.
-A good job.
-Hopefully he'll have learnt his lesson,
but you never know with cats. He's only young.
Maybe that was one of his nine lives.
Now we can catch up with the people involved in tonight's other rescues.
Keith Nixon, the motorcyclist who came off his bike after hitting a log
suffered a broken collar bone, shoulder blade,
a large laceration to his neck, as well as a collapsed lung.
He had emergency surgery and was in the high dependency unit of Newcastle General Hospital
for a week, and on a ward for a further two weeks.
He can't thank the emergency services enough.
Without them, he says, he wouldn't be alive.
And how are the Hill family recovering after their car spun so far across the motorway
it ended up behind the crash barrier?
Dad Matthew was driving.
We crossed every lane of the motorway.
It was like we were on ice and totally out of control.
When it started to spin, I thought we were all dead.
There was no two ways about it.
Miraculously, none of the family was injured,
and five-week-old Macy slept through it all.
Mum Kelly is incredulous at their escape.
I think unless you've been in an accident like that,
you don't really appreciate how much things mean to you
and the time you've got to think about it.
It's scary and I wouldn't ever want to be put in a position like that with anything again.
And how's Richard after his heart attack?
He was kept in hospital for three days after the operation
and he's now recovering well at home.
He's determined to make a few changes.
I'm not having my gin,
I'm cutting down on my consumption of alcohol,
which was bigger than it should have been.
So I'm restricting myself
and I feel slightly as if I'm in a straitjacket of life.
But I've been told by the cardiologists
that I'll be back to normal in a few months.
And it will be a newly reformed Richard.
This is a big wake-up call.
Every time you see a blue light or hear a siren,
the emergency services are on their way to help someone in distress.
Join me again when we go out on call for more Real Rescues.
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