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Peter Vooght, of Semington, suffered a life-threatening episode of sleep apnoea in March 2016. His airway had become obstructed and he was unconscious and having difficulty breathing. Wiltshire Air Ambulance arrived and Peter was anaesthetised and intubated on scene to manage his airway and airlifted to Southmead Hospital, Bristol, in ten minutes. Peter takes up the story.
“On Monday 21 March 2016, after a restless night's sleep, I was waiting to have a shower after my wife, Lesley, had finished in the bathroom and I'm told I stopped breathing properly. Lesley told me my eyes were open but I was not responding to her in any way.
She immediately called 999. The ambulance arrived and tried to revive me but they decided they needed the assistance of the Air Ambulance. It arrived very quickly as we are only a few miles from Devizes, landing at St George's School playing field which is about 100 yards from my home. A doctor arrived shortly afterwards and I was anaesthetised and intubated in order for them to manage my airway before I was put into the helicopter and airlifted to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where I was taken straight to the CT scanner. I was told the journey in the air ambulance took about ten minutes.
I was in intensive care and on life support for 24 hours until I regained consciousness on Tuesday. In the end I was in hospital for just over a fortnight. I underwent a whole battery of tests on every part of my system but everything came back normal which was quite a relief as I underwent open heart surgery 16 years ago.
Eventually, after Lesley mentioned to one of the doctors that I was a very restless sleeper and made a lot of noises during the night, they tested me for sleep apnoea and that turned out to be the cause of my problem. I had hurt my back a few days before and I'd been sleeping flat on my back and eventually the apnoea had caused the oxygen level in my blood to get too low.
I was put on a 24 hour oxygen line and kept in hospital until the levels had raised sufficiently for me to go home. I was very well looked after by all the doctors, nurses and other staff who were all very caring.
I left Southmead Hospital on 7 April after 17 days. I was on day-time oxygen for quite a long time, but reducing the amount of time I used it and now I am able to do without any oxygen during the day, even when walking around the village. As I have sleep apnoea I think I will probably have to use the night time mask for the rest of my life but that's a small price to pay for being able to live a normal life again.
Lesley and I visited Wiltshire Air Ambulance in August 2016 and saw the impressive helicopter and met the crew and I was able to thank them for everything they did for me.
I owe my life to the service.”