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'I'm planning on wearing white instead of black' - Wedding will go ahead after man survives serious heart attack

PUBLISHED: 13:34 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:00 21 June 2019

Paramedic, Dan Twite, operations manager, Shaun Reddy, paramedic, Mark Salter and associate ambulance practitioner Jemma Carnell with James Buckenham and Sharna Rankin. Picture: East of England Ambulance Service

Paramedic, Dan Twite, operations manager, Shaun Reddy, paramedic, Mark Salter and associate ambulance practitioner Jemma Carnell with James Buckenham and Sharna Rankin. Picture: East of England Ambulance Service

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Wedding bells will ring in Swaffham this summer thanks to ambulance crews, who saved a man's life when he went into cardiac arrest.

Near to Middleton Mr Buckenham stopped breathing and went into full cardiac arrest.  Picture: Chris BishopNear to Middleton Mr Buckenham stopped breathing and went into full cardiac arrest. Picture: Chris Bishop

James Buckenham, 31, had no family history of heart problems, so when he had chest pains while working as a lorry driver he took little notice.

But the pain remained that evening and with fiancée Sharna Rankin growing concerned, they called 111, who alerted the ambulance service.

Mr Buckenham said: "I was Googling my symptoms while Sharna called 111, and it was only then that I realised that I could be in trouble."

The crew arrived and rushed Mr Buckenham to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, but near the village of Middleton he slumped forward, stopped breathing and went into full cardiac arrest.

Ms Rankin was travelling in the ambulance. She said: "By the time he fell forward the paramedic was on his feet and had begun resuscitation.

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"If I'd been on my own, I wouldn't have been able to do what they did. If I'd left the call to 111 another 20 minutes James wouldn't have made it.

"They're incredible, it seemed like ages in the back of the ambulance, but it was just a few minutes and now I'm planning on wearing white instead of black because of these guys."

The ambulance pulled over so paramedic Mark Salter and associate ambulance practitioner Jemma Carnell could work on Mr Buckenham, calling another crew to assist.

After two rounds of shocks with a defibrillator and heart compression he began breathing again.

The ambulance crew decided that Mr Buckenham needed to be taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where, despite it being a longer trip, specialist care was available.

Once admitted he was stabilised and a scan revealed that blood clots had caused a 16mm blockage in one of his arteries. The next day a stent was inserted into his artery, relieving the pressure.

The last few months have been focused on recovery, but today, nearly four months after his heart stopped, Mr Buckenham is back at work - and the wedding is on.

"I have no permanent damage, and am able to return to work, which wouldn't have been possible without the swift action of the crew," he added.

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