There are so many good charitable causes out there that it’s often hard to know which one to support. But in the end, the best one to go for is probably the one that means most to you personally.
For Chris Hickey – who works with WatchGecko and ZULUDIVER in human resources – and now for all of his colleagues, its’s an easy decision.
Three years ago, we nearly lost Chris. In fact, he’s been described by more than one person as a “miracle”. And the fact that he’s still with us now and looking seemingly indestructible is largely down to an incredibly special charity, the Great Western Air Ambulance, which we are now raising money for via a distinctive NATO watch strap in their green and blue colours.
The air ambulance is a charity that brings the skills and medical equipment of a hospital’s emergency department straight to the side of the most critically ill or injured, gaining those vital seconds that make the difference between life and death. It operates all year throughout the whole of Gloucestershire and further regions – Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire relying entirely on charitable funding to keep going: there are no NHS handouts. As a rule of thumb, each mission costs something in the region of £2,000.
This amount is a remarkably low price to save a life.
Chris knows this, or rather he doesn’t, as he has no memory now of the days immediately before or after 15 June, 2017. His wife Sue instead remembers it in graphic detail though. At around nine in the morning she heard him cough loudly: or so she thought. Instead, it was Chris taking what so nearly became his last breath. He had suffered a colossal heart attack, which meant that his heart had stopped and his breathing as well. Sue, however, knew about CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and immediately started performing it on Chris, while calling for help. Her swift action bought Chris the vital window of opportunity that made it feasible to call out the air ambulance – because they knew that he stood a chance, however slim.
But when the air ambulance arrived, they struggled to revive him. At one point, they thought that there was nothing left to do. Sue asked them to try one more time — and it was then, on the twelfth defibrillator shock, that his heart re-started. It had been stopped for nearly an hour. Even with Chris’s heart going again, the outcome was uncertain. Nobody had ever seen a patient whose heart had been stopped for that long, but at least the air ambulance was on hand to get him to the cardiac unit as quickly as possible. Twelve days later, he left it, ready to start the next chapter of his life. Just two months later he was back at work. His escape was so incredible that he even featured on local news.
Raising money to save lives
It’s no surprise that Chris feels hugely passionate about the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. He went to visit the crew who picked him up, several weeks after leaving hospital, which he described as an “incredibly moving experience”. For them too, it was incredible to see a patient they had saved against all odds.
Since then, Chris has devoted a lot of his spare time to travelling around the region, giving talks about the air ambulance, and raising money for the charity.
As Chris’s colleagues, we feel just as passionately about the air ambulance as he does. The men and women who make it happen are truly the unsung heroes of the health service. In order to show our support, we’ve decided to create a unique NATO watch strap in green and blue: with a percentage of the profits being donated to the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. We’re hoping that the air ambulance crew themselves will wear the watch strap, which is designed to be hard-wearing as well as eye-catching.
Please do support this wonderful charity – and get them for your friends and neighbours too. Without the dedication and commitment of the Great Western Air ambulance Charity, our friend Chris wouldn’t be here, enjoying his life more than he ever has before, at the age of 66. In some ways what happened changed him, but only for the good as he now concentrates on what’s really important and gets the most out of every day.
He’s also made some small changes to make sure he’s fitter than before, to make the most of every day. The last word, of course, goes to Chris himself. “They saved my life: it’s as simple as that,” he says. “The funny thing is that I’d always wanted to have a ride in a helicopter one day. It’s just a shame that I don’t remember any of it!”