Date published: 26 March 2024


A mum who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in front of her husband at home has been reunited with her team of ambulance heroes.

Ashleigh Loach was just 29 when she stopped breathing and became unconscious at her home in Dallington, Northamptonshire on 30 October 2018, not long after the birth of her youngest child Paisley.

Ashleigh, who has Crohn’s disease, put her tiredness, dizziness and heart palpitations down to the disease flaring up, which she thought was due to her recent pregnancy. However, her symptoms were mirroring something much more dangerous.

Following a rare night out for Ashleigh and her husband Dave following the birth of Paisley, Ashleigh collapsed shortly after arriving home and Dave realised she wasn’t breathing.

Within seconds, Dave jumped into action trying to wake Ashleigh as she lay on the bed.

He called 999 and Emergency Medical Advisor, Stephanie Homer answered the call immediately, providing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) instructions over the phone, giving Ashleigh the best chance of survival.

Dave said: “I knew something was wrong with Ashleigh, she looked grey and gaunt and my survival mode kicked in. When the call handler directed me to get Ashleigh onto the floor to start CPR, I somehow found the strength, even though at this point she was a dead weight.”

Dave began CPR on Ashleigh while Paramedic Gary Taylor and Technician Scott Lovett were rapidly making their way to the scene.

Gary and Scott arrived on scene just six minutes after the 999 call to take over from Dave, followed by Clinical Support Manager Matthew Stringfellow, Clinical Operations Manager Matthew Flounders and Paramedics Ian French, Wendy Hamilton and Rebecca Illingworth, who worked together to stabilise Ashleigh and rush her off to Northampton General Hospital.

Within one hour of arriving at hospital, Ashleigh was transported to Kettering General Hospital. Sadly, doctors weren’t hopeful with Ashleigh’s condition and so she was placed into an induced coma where her family were warned she might not make it through the night.

Ashleigh remained in hospital for two weeks, where under the care of specialists, she was fitted with an internal defibrillator designed to shock her if her heart stopped again.

Ashleigh, now 34, said: “I don’t remember much about that day, if anything at all, so with the help of my family, I have been able to piece things together.

“At the time, my parents were on a trip of a lifetime in the Galápagos Islands but with the help of the travel company, my family and friends, my parents were able to be there when I woke up.

“When the doctors first attempted to wake me up, I didn’t react well and so the decision was taken to put me in a coma again. My first memory of actually waking up was seeing my mum there holding my hand and telling me I was in hospital.”

Following her time in hospital, Ashleigh finally made her way home to be reunited with friends and family, coming to terms with what happened and how life was going to change from then on.

Six years on, Ashleigh is doing well but admits that at first it was hard to come to terms with what had happened.

She said: “My life has completely changed since my cardiac arrest and I often feel frustrated that I am not back to the ‘normal’ Ashleigh I once was.

“I was desperate to get back to work when I got home and to get back to my independent self but I soon learned that it wouldn’t be this way. I do get a lot of people staring when I attend appointments because I am typically the youngest, fittest person there and I have been asked if I am in the right place, however they don’t know what I have been through.

“I am a generally positive person so it has been hard dealing with what follows a cardiac arrest, however I am incredibly grateful for all those who came together to save my life on that day and that I am still here to watch my daughters Pippa and Paisley grow up together with my husband.

Ian French, Paramedic at East Midlands Ambulance Service said:

“It’s been really nice to see Ashleigh, to meet her family and see how her life has changed and moved forward.”

Matthew Stringfellow, Specialist Practitioner at East Midlands Ambulance Service added:

“It’s been absolutely amazing. To see the support Ashleigh has from her family and to see how well she is doing is incredible.”

Would you know how to save someone's life if they suffered a cardiac arrest?

Visit the Community Trainer section of our website to find out how you can book a free one hour training session with our Community Trainers who volunteer across the East Midlands teaching the life-saving skill of CPR and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).