Life-saving CPR recognised with award

Bystander CPR which saved a young man’s life has been recognised in Cambridge with a Resuscitation Certificate from the Royal Humane Society, a charity which promotes lifesaving intervention.

The award was presented at the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) base in Cambridge to Debbie Lavender, who works as a nurse at West Suffolk Hospital. The award recognises Debbie’s efforts for ‘restoring a man to life’ on 18 July 2020. The award was presented to Debbie at an emotional reunion at the EAAA Cambridge base between Debbie, the patient, Will Fiske, from Framlingham, and the air ambulance doctor, Natalie Lonsdale, who was on duty that night, almost a year ago.


Aged 30 at the time of the incident, Will, who had no previous health concerns, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in the garden of a pub near Woodbridge at around 8:25pm in the evening of 18 July 2020. The EAAA Anglia Two team from Cambridge was tasked to help Will, but before the team arrived at the scene, thanks to Debbie’s quick actions, Will had received CPR, a shock from a defibrillator and regained a pulse.

Will is now well on the road to recovery after receiving subsequent specialist treatment at the Royal Papworth Hospital, and enjoying life with his partner and her two daughters. The incident happened when Covid-19 restrictions had just lifted and Debbie acted without PPE or fear for her own safety to help Will, who she had she never met before. This award recognises Debbie’s selfless actions and bravery and will help to raise awareness of the importance of CPR.

Dr Natalie Lonsdale, EAAA, said: “For Debbie to successfully perform CPR, use the defibrillator and get Will’s pulse back before the emergency services arrived was a huge thing to do and really did help to save Will’s life. Working with patients in Will’s situation, I know just how much of a difference that immediate CPR and shock from a defibrillator can make to a positive outcome. To be able to meet both Debbie and Will at the Cambridge base, almost a year later, was incredible and I’m really pleased that Debbie’s bravery and quick thinking has been recognised in this award. I really hope it encourages more people to learn CPR and to act in a similar situation.”

Cambridge’s Chariots of Fire 2021 will proudly support life-saving CPR training through EAAA to help save more lives like Will’s. Taking part on Sunday 19 September, Chariots of Fire is the region’s longest running charitable relay race and is organised by Hewitsons Charitable Trust, the charity established and supported by HCR Hewitsons.

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On receiving the award, Debbie Lavender said: “To be nominated and to receive a Royal Humane Society Award really is incredible. Meeting Will and his family, Doctor Natalie and the EAAA team, nearly a year later, was so special and a day I will never forget. The positive outcome of this story really does highlight the importance of early CPR and defibrillation and how this can help to save a life. Thank you to Doctor Natalie and the EAAA team for the award nomination, for bringing us together and for the amazing pre-hospital care you provide daily.”

Given recent events during the football the importance of CPR and its life-saving impact has never been so prominent.

Wendy Von Niebel of Hewitsons Charitable Trust said: “Chariots of Fire provides an ideal opportunity for local businesses, the college community and the general public to come together, take part and raise much needed funds for a good cause. After Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest the importance of CPR is felt more than ever and we’re pleased to be supporting such a worthwhile and life-saving cause through this year’s race and encourage teams to get signed up if they haven’t already.”

EAAA is committed to delivering high-quality training to schools, community groups and workplaces to improve the region’s CPR skills. 80% of cardiac arrests happen in the home therefore EAAA want to train as many people as possible so that when its crews are tasked to a cardiac arrest, that person has a better chance of receiving bystander CPR.

Taking part on Sunday 19 September, Chariots of Fire is the region’s longest running charitable relay race and is organised by Hewitsons Charitable Trust, the charity established and supported by HCR Hewitsons. The race starts and ends on Queens’ Green and follows a picturesque 1.7-mile route through some of Cambridge’s historic city centre and two world renowned Cambridge University Colleges, over the Cam and along the Backs. The baton is then passed on to the next runner at Queens’ Green until all six have completed the course.