“I just feel incredibly grateful to everyone involved.”
On Monday 16th May 2022, Andy Prindiville, Head Teacher of St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in Brent, began his journey via the tube to a work conference in London when he suddenly collapsed, suffering injuries to his nose and eye. Little did he know, this bizarre experience would soon be followed by an even more shocking, life-threatening incident that would shake him to his core and profoundly impact his loved ones.
As Andy woke the following day, he “felt so dreadful he intended to take the entire morning off work and go in at lunchtime”, which was a rarity. Alongside his head teaching duties, Andy also works as CEO of the All Saints’ Trust, overseeing multiple schools across the area.
“I couldn’t tell you that the last time I had time off work. When I called my wife Sarah on Tuesday morning before her shift (as an ITU sister), she said she had a dreadful feeling about me. Moments later, I blacked out, and my daughter Becca (16) lifted me onto the floor. Fortunately, she hadn’t yet left for college, so she was still in the house. She usually has these great big headphones on, but luckily didn’t on this particular day.”
Upon finding her dad unresponsive, she called 999 on the landline and remained connected to her mum on Andy’s mobile phone. Rebecca administered high-quality chest compressions for approximately 10 minutes – following the guidance from the emergency call handler – having never attempted CPR previously.
Her early intervention bought valuable time for EEAST crew members to arrive at the scene. Their team continued CPR and administered a shock to restart Andy’s heart. The crews handed over care to EHAAT’s pre-hospital care doctor Dr Rachel Harding and critical care paramedic Jakob Humphrey who arrived via helicopter.
Impressed by the actions of Rebecca and EEAST crews, critical care paramedic Jakob Humphrey stated:
“They did an amazing job getting Andy’s heart restarted before we arrived. After assessing him, we decided to perform a pre-hospital emergency anaesthetic, a procedure normally found in the hospital. We did this to protect Andy’s brain and heart, and give him the best chance of a full recovery.”
Dr Rachel Harding called Sarah and updated her on Andy’s situation. Sarah, who was working in ITU, then rushed home from work. As Andy’s pulse returned, Rachel and Jakob decided he would benefit from going straight to a specialist heart attack centre, with Harefield being the closest.
Before EHAAT’s critical care team left the scene, Andy’s wife arrived, and Rachel and Jakob were able to give them a brief moment to explain what had happened. As Andy later woke in the hospital, he was disoriented and confused about what had happened.
“I can’t remember anything one week before or after the incident, but initially, I just couldn’t get my head around it. I run five nights a week, don’t smoke, have low blood pressure, a good diet and a really low resting heart rate. I’ve moved away from that now, and I’m just very, very lucky to be here. You know, if any one of those things had not panned out as they did on the Tuesday, I would’ve died or been brain damaged. I just feel incredibly grateful to everyone involved, from Rebecca’s quick thinking to the response from the ambulance crew, EHAAT, Harefield and all of the amazing aftercare and support.”
Andy was recently invited to tour EHAAT’s North Weald airbase with his family, where he reunited with the EEAST and EHAAT crew members.
“The technology is amazing – from the training facilities to the helicopters, visitor centre and beautiful reception. I almost had this vision a helicopter would take off, drop you at the hospital and then come back to base. But obviously, there’s so much more than that, with so many people involved. It was lovely to meet the team and be able to say thank you.”
Reflecting on Andy’s base visit, Jakob said the reunion was a “brilliant example of the chain of survival, and fantastic to see his amazing recovery”.