Quick thinking medic saves neighbours life

A recently qualified off duty medic employed her training to save the life of a neighbour who had collapsed in the street.

Image of Beth McLean, Physician AssociateBeth McLean, a Physician Associate for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust was faced with the ‘life or death’ scenario whilst she was relaxing at home on Saturday the 14th September in Belmont, Durham.

At home revising for her upcoming national exams, she was called outside by her mother who was gardening at the time. A neighbour had collapsed whilst washing his car on the higher than average 27 degree September day.

Faced with the critical situation, Beth explains her actions ‘I had often thought about how I would respond to an emergency situation outside of the Trust. I quickly and methodically ran over what I had been taught; was he responsive to voice and pain, did he have breath sounds – there was nothing’.

She also faced the anguish of trying to move the gentleman who had collapsed ‘he had fallen and was wedged between his car and the kerb. Another neighbor helped me to safely move him on to the pavement so I could avoid any spinal damage whilst I was performing chest compressions’.

An ambulance was called and arrived just 11 minutes later. Beth had rotated administrating compressions with her mum who is a radiographer for James Cook University Hospital. After the North East Ambulance Service team set to work on the patient, he was taken off to University Hospital of North Durham where he was stabilised.

Beth continues ‘I couldn’t really sleep that night wondering what had happened to my neighbour. The very next morning after returning from the gym, I came home to find his brother on my sofa with an update, he explained that his brother was alive and in ITU. Luckily there was no damage to his heart. I’m looking forward to visiting him soon to get a first-hand update on how he’s doing’.

After performing the lifesaving compressions, Beth commenced her first day of employment with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust as a Physician Associate. ‘The role is a relatively new position across the health care system in the North East, though it is well embedded in the south of England’. She explains more about it ‘I graduated from The University of Liverpool after studying Anatomy and Human Biology. I wasn’t planning on entering the medical profession, my ambition was to become a teacher, but after graduation I recognised I wanted to pursue a medical career.

I completed a two year post graduate course at Newcastle University before qualifying as a Physician Associate. We are only the second co-hort of students to qualify in the North East, so it’s a really innovative but ambitious commitment by trusts across the region.

My role involves working alongside a doctor as part of the medical team. We take the patients history, examine and diagnose amongst other things. The function allows for accessible treatment and diagnosis in a timely fashion for our A&E and EAU visitors.

Deepak Dwakanarath, Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive for the Trust spoke about Beth’s heroics ‘Beth is certainly the caliber of Physician Associate we want to work within our organsiation. She was faced with a distressing, unexpected situation and dealt with it brilliantly. We are sure she’ll have a great career with our team’.

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