Colin Harley

My name is Colin Harley and in April last year (2021) I was unfortunate enough to have a cardiac arrest just after walking the dog. I’d got back and put the dog in the garage. Next thing I know, it is 22 hours later and I am being woken up in King’s College Hospital in London.

I have to thank my son Steve for saving my life. He lives a few doors along and came and did CPR, which kept me going until a paramedic arrived. Then the KSS Air Ambulance flew into King George V Playing Fields in Loose near Maidstone. They put me in an induced coma and took me off to King’s College in London because there was a risk I had suffered a head injury so they could manage that if required alongside any cardiac interventions.

I stayed there for 15 days and was fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) and the rest is history, really. It has been a long road to recovery but it’s been good, and every step along the way has been worthwhile.

I think CPR is vital – it was certainly vital in my case. The more people that understand the process and how to do it, the better it is for the people around them because it is not a difficult thing to do.

You need to have the courage to do it when the time comes. If you can, get training in how to do CPR. But if you’re not trained, the 999 call handler will tell you what to do. The main thing is to have a go – once you have done that, the rewards are quite amazing really. It saves people’s lives, it is as simple as that.

We have followed KSS since its inception and supported it at events like the Kent County Show. Since they cared for me we have joined the lottery and we also make other donations to them and fully support all the work they do, their work is vital.

We see it fly over our house occasionally and we always think, `I wonder where they are off to today?’.

The crew are quite an amazing bunch of people. They go where they are needed, when they are needed, whatever is needed, day or night. Their work is second to none. They are a nice bunch of people who do what they do because there is a need, and we are very grateful for that.”

image of Steve and Colin Harley during a visit to our base
Colin and Steve with Pilot Dave Gifford and Dr Magnus Nelson who were part of our crew who cared for him.
I ended up doing CPR on my dad for around eight minutes until secondary help came.

Steve Harley – Colin's son 

Steve Harley – Colin’s son 

“On the day it happened I was working from home. I had a call from my mum who seemed quite distressed that my dad had collapsed. Luckily enough I live just down the road. I ran down the road and found him after his dog walk just lying unresponsive in the garage with the dog around him not quite sure what was going on.

There was no immediate response from him and I carried out the CPR on him while I managed to get my mum, in her distraught state, to ring 999. After a period of time we managed to get secondary help from an ambulance. Then KSS Air Ambulance was called. We managed to stabilise my father but after initial assessments from the doctor from the Air Ambulance decision was made to put my dad into an induced coma and fly him into King’s in London.

I think everyone knows about KSS. It’s one of those services that you are grateful exists, you never really want to have to use it, but you’re very thankful it’s there.

You want to do everything for your loved one that you can to make sure that they are ok. We were very lucky that KSS was available and managed to get there.

Over the years I’ve had many different lots of first aid training, starting with the Scouts, but also in particular jobs. CPR is one of those things that you learn that you never really think that you will use, you never actually want to use.

From my experience now, it’s very different doing it on a dummy to doing it in real life. Having said that, I was lucky that the skills and processes that I learned I managed to put into action that day.

In the heat of the moment there’s a lot of things that go through your mind – ‘this is my father, is this how it’s going to end?’ – all of the things like that. Having knowledge of CPR you’ve got to get in there and get on with it.

Everyone wants to do the best for their family, so it’s important for people to understand that and have it in the back of their mind.

I would encourage people just to have that knowledge. If you have an opportunity to learn CPR, you may only have to learn it once in your life but it will give you a chance to do something if you are ever put in that situation.

The chances are quite high that if you have to do CPR it will be on someone you know or family member, but you have to get rid of the emotion.”

Dr Magnus Nelson from KSS who treated Colin said: “SECAmb manage most cardiac arrests without us, but may call us where a patient is resuscitated and subsequently requires an anaesthetic to help manage their condition.

“Colin’s story shows just how important CPR from a bystander can be. Without Steve’s intervention, it’s unlikely he would have survived. Even if you have not learned CPR, the 999 call handler can tell you what to do. Don’t be afraid to step forward – you could save a life.”

Our patients are at the centre of what we do.

There is nothing more heart-warming for our team than when a former patient gets in touch and wants to visit us. If you, or a family member, has been a patient of ours and would like to get in touch, we would love to hear from you. 

Saving lives when every second counts

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