SSI Energy turbine technician medic saves life after double cardiac arrest

Peter-Lane-small.083819A wind turbine technician who suffered cardiac arrest twice is alive today because a paramedic working alongside him spotted he was seriously ill.

The technician’s life was saved by new SSI Energy technician medic Peter Lane when the man felt unwell after completing a rope access training session in Ireland.

“If he had been working 80 metres or higher up an offshore or isolated onshore turbine without the immediate help of a qualified paramedic, he would not have survived” Peter said.

The incident was living proof that paramedics on offshore and remote onshore wind farms make the difference between life and death because that first ‘golden hour’ after a serious incident is critical.

“Being there, on the spot, saved the man’s life and has proved exactly what SSI Energy believes in – that the investment in technician medics – paramedics with technician skills – really is the difference between life and death,” said Peter.

He joined SSI Energy – which specialises in providing technician medics and Medical Emergency Response Teams (MERT) for onshore and offshore wind farm operators – from the front-line emergency ambulance service in July.

He was undergoing rope access training for client GE at the ARCH Training site in Fermanagh, Ireland, when he spotted that a man was rubbing his chest and looking grey and clammy after twice completing a 25-metre tower climb and an evacuation pulley drop.

Peter immediately spotted he was suffering from something far more dangerous than the indigestion he believed he had.

As the man, who does not want to be named, became more grey and clammy, rubbing the pit of his chest, Peter performed a rapid assessment, noting an irregular heart rate and the man becoming short of breath.

He persuaded him to go to hospital in his car, arranging to meet an ambulance at a filling station on route about seven miles away.

Two minutes after they arrived, the man went into cardiac arrest in the front seat of Peter’s car.

“I had grabbed an AED (automated external defibrillator) from the centre before we left so I got him out of the car and started CPR straight away, just after a Northern Ireland Ambulance Service response Jeep had arrived. We applied the defibrillator, analysed the rhythm, delivered a shock and continued CPR until we saw a rhythm change on the screen. On checking, the man’s pulse had returned. We continued to assist with his ventilations. He then went back into cardiac arrest and I again performed CPR while the other paramedic was trying to get access to his veins. After we delivered a further shock, he woke up, and though still in a great deal of pain, started talking to us, and through other observations we knew there was no major neurological damage.”

A comprehensive 12-lead ECG (electrocardiogram) showed he had suffered a type of heart attack called a STEMI.

“When you recognise the patient is having a STEMI, you contact an on-call cardiologist and once accepted by them, bypass the local Emergency Department and go directly to a more specialised hospital with a Cath Lab for specific heart tests and interventions. When we got him into the ambulance he was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry where four stents were inserted into his heart. A first-aider may not have recognised the signs of his condition nor have the skills to deal with his cardiac arrest had he been working up a turbine or offshore” he said.

Duncan Higham, Managing Director at Hampshire-based SSI Energy, said the incident was the perfect illustration of the difference between life and death that technician medics made to both offshore and onshore wind farms.

“Companies might think it is expensive to have technician medics on turbine sites but that one man would not be here today if it had happened on a wind farm without a medic. What price can you put on life?” he said.

“A first aider has three days’ training. A paramedic has a minimum of two years along with immense exposure to regular medical & trauma emergencies. Qualified care is essential, as medical emergencies like strokes, heart attacks, anaphylactic shock and asthma attacks account for as many emergencies as trauma does.”

All SSIE medics undergo the Rescue Trauma and Critical Care (RTACC) course as well as having at least two years’ front-line emergency medical experience.

“Medical Emergency Response Teams (MERT) carry a satellite phone so were never out of communication and aimed to have a specialist doctor talking to the medic on the ground within four minutes. A consultant doctor talking to a medic at the point of injury, who is capable of carrying out specialist treatments, has been proven to improve the outcome of the patient significantly.”

Peter, 28, who joined the ambulance service in 2010, has visited the man in the coronary care unit at Cavan and he is recovering well.

He decided to train as a technician medic to fulfil a taste for adversity. He had his first day at the Bindoo windfarm in Cavan, run by GE, on July 18.

“I wanted a new challenge where I could work in a more demanding environment, carry out rope access work and get hands on, which really appealed, as well as using my paramedic skills when needed,” he said.

Jason Welch, director of GE, SSI Energy’s client at Bindoo, said: “This was an excellent outcome for the patient and proves exactly why we make the investment in SSI Energy’s services. This type of serious incident could happen at any time and to have specialist help on site really saves lives”

Paramedics are equipped with the latest kit; from advanced airway devices and a full range of medications, to trauma traction splints and chest seals.

Darren Sherry, of Optinergy, the patient’s employer, said: “I am delighted this incident had such a positive outcome for the patient and that Peter could use his expertise to save another life.”

Photo caption: Paramedic Peter Lane, who is retraining as a technician medic to work on offshore and onshore windfarms for SSI Energy’s clients.

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