When David and his family set off for a relaxing family camping trip at Stowford Farm, near Ilfracombe, where they had a seasonal pitch for some 14 years, nothing could have prepared them for how their plans would change.

Friday 12th April 2013 should have been full of excitement as David, along with his son-in-law, started working together to put up the awnings and set up for their family holiday. Things quickly took a turn when David started to experience some pain and discomfort in his chest.

I remember mentioning to my son-in-law that I didn’t feel quite right and was starting to feel unwell, so we decided that I should sit down and rest for five minutes. I did this and then decided to crack on and get on with the set up. But minutes later the pain in my chest grew more unbearable and my family noticed that my skin looked almost grey, I was sweating, and my lips were turning blue.

Land Ambulance crews arrived on the scene quickly, attending to David and getting him comfortable ready to be transported to Barnstaple hospital. Once David arrived, the severity of the situation started to sink in as he was told that he would need surgery in Exeter hospital as soon as possible if he was to recover from a major heart attack. It would take just over one hour for David to be transported by land ambulance between hospitals, and David recalls that this is not time he had to spare.  

It was decided that David would be transported by Devon Air Ambulance to Exeter hospital, where he later received three stents. David recalls the critical care and onward transport by the Air Ambulance crew as a life-saving part of this traumatic experience:  

“Without Devon Air Ambulance, I might not be here today! Thanks to them I made it to Exeter straight into surgery and back on the ward with three stents fitted by 5:30pm – about 5 hours after the initial 999 call at the campsite, I was well on my way to recovery.” 

As David was not allowed to drive for a week, he stayed at the campsite with his family until he could drive again. Recovering with his wife, children, and grandchildren around him.

Relief and recovery

'I would like you to thank all staff, from the land ambulance, Barnstaple Hospital, Exeter Hospital, and of course the Devon Air Ambulance helicopter pilot and wonderful paramedics who all helped save my life that day.

'We were invited to the charity’s Eaglescott airbase once I recovered, and it was very emotional seeing the helicopter that took me to the Exeter cardiology unit. I could not be more thankful to everyone involved,'

Since his heart attack, David has kindly donated to Devon Air Ambulance every month for over nine years and receives our Helipad Magazine at home. It was reading this that prompted David to get in touch and share his story.  

Thank you to David for sharing his story. If you have been helped by Devon Air Ambulance and want to share your story and a member of our Communications team will be in touch.  

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