Aylsham resident Janet Green is about to celebrate her 70th birthday, thanks to the lifesaving teamwork of four shoppers.
Janet, who went into cardiac arrest and collapsed outside the Break charity shop on April 1, would not be alive today if it wasn’t for a very lucky set of coincidences.
Fellow Market Place shoppers that afternoon included an off-duty community first responder, an off-duty hospital doctor, and two Aylsham High School members of staff who had recently been trained in first aid.
And a few yards away from the drama, hanging outside the town hall, was a lifesaving defibrillator machine. Janet’s chances of survival would have only been about 1:100 if no one had intervened before the summoned ambulance arrived.
But she was fit, smiling and able to climb the steps to the Aylsham High School stage at an emotional presentation ceremony today (July 24), the last day of term, when she thanked all those who had saved her life.
And she was looking forward to celebrating her milestone birthday on July 26 with husband Raymond, her two sons, and two grandchildren.
The school ceremony saw Andrew Barlow, community response manager with the East of England Ambulance Service, present certificates of appreciation to school science technicians Lauren Goodyear and Ben Ecclestone.
The pair had been buying hearts from the butcher’s for students to dissect when they saw Janet fall on her face and rushed to her aid.
“We’d been trained in first aid at the school about three weeks earlier,” said Ben, who recognised the signs of cardiac arrest.
They were joined by Dr Victoria Willimott, visiting Aylsham from her home in Bury, Lancashire, and Aylsham community first responder Andrew Hartshorne, who was off duty and had just had his hair cut.
The team, led by Andrew, worked together giving Janet CPR and applying the defibrillator. After a fourth shock with the machine, she began to breathe again.
Andrew Barlow said Andrew Hartshorne had done a “sterling job” in taking charge. He told the presentation that the “chain of survival” working to help Janet had been very strong, adding: “Without it, Mrs Green would not be here.”
Janet, who also badly injured her head, above her right eye, in the fall was fitted with a pacemaker and internal defibrillator at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
“I remember heading for Break with some things for them and the next thing I remember is three days later when I woke up in the N&N,” she said.
“Whatever you do or say is never enough to thank all those people, and the NHS. They were all fantastic.”
Now she is looking forward to the birth of her first great-grandchild, due in August. She added: “I’m so lucky. I wake up every morning and say ‘thank you’.”