Off-duty London Ambulance Service paramedic on Stortford Remembrance Sunday standard bearer's cardiac arrest: 'For Arthur to come round after the first shock is an extremely rare thing to happen... it was just like he woke up'
Humble hero Jack Lynch has described the miraculous moment that Royal British Legion standard bearer Arthur King revived after suffering a cardiac arrest during Bishop's Stortford's Remembrance Sunday parade.
The London Ambulance Service (LAS) paramedic, who lives in the town, was watching the procession on November 14 with his girlfriend Hannah Johnson when Arthur, 74, collapsed in The Causeway.
At first, Jack believed the great-grandfather had simply fallen and was already surrounded by first aiders. But, with teacher Hannah’s encouragement, he stepped forward as the seriousness of the situation became evident.
Jack, 26, who was born in Australia and raised in Ireland, completed a BSc in paramedicine at Greenwich University before joining the LAS in 2018.
His work in the capital exposes him to the widest range of incidents and emergencies, but he said the Remembrance Sunday events in Stortford were a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Jack immediately recognised that Arthur was displaying classic signs of a cardiac arrest – a type of breathing that made him gulp like a fish out of water.
He said: “I knew exactly what was going on. When that happened, I automatically went into work mode.”
Jack identified himself to two police officers as an off-duty paramedic. He said: “It was a very chaotic scene with lots of people trying to help but nobody co-ordinating.”
He called for scissors to remove Arthur’s clothing and confirmed he was not breathing and there was no pulse.
Meanwhile, at his request, firefighters from Bishop’s Stortford station fetched a defibrillator from their appliance – parked nearby at the foot of Bridge Street – and the emergency personnel set to work together.
Jack cleared the area and, under his supervision, a firefighter used the equipment to shock Arthur’s heart.
“Within four or five [further] chest compressions, Arthur’s eyes opened and he took in a big, deep breath,” said Jack.
In line with his training, he stopped the resuscitation to check the patient’s condition and Arthur came around.
“I said ‘Hi, Arthur, my name’s Jack and I’m a paramedic. I’m going to take good care of you. You’ve had a funny turn’.”
To his amazement, Arthur understood. Jack told the Indie that it was a miracle: “For Arthur to come round after the first shock is an extremely rare thing to happen... it was just like he woke up.”
He said: “He had the cardiac arrest in the best place, surrounded by people who were first aid-trained and realised there was something seriously wrong. The fact he had a shock so soon after he collapsed is what saved him.”
Jack paid tribute to the people who rushed to help, including those who used parade standards to form a protective screen around the rescue operation. “What I brought to the table was knowledge and experience,” he said.
In his working life, Jack is used to helping a patient but never knowing the outcome of their treatment after they reach hospital. He said the chance to talk to Arthur’s family after his daughter Sharon Bagley appealed for their paramedic saviour to come forward was a rare privilege he treasured.
Sharon, part of the reception team at South Street Surgery, was with mum Linda watching the parade when her dad became ill and they witnessed the teamwork which saved him.
She told the Indie: “Thank you just seems like such a weak word – it’s more than that. They saved my dad’s life and they’ve given him back to us.”
Arthur wants to meet all those who helped him and Jack is looking forward to catching up with his recovery. He said: “I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
Jack said he had been humbled to be able to help a stalwart public servant like Arthur, who was a fireman at Bishop’s Stortford and Stansted Airport until he retired as a senior officer at 52. He then used the life-saving skills he learned as an emergency worker to volunteer as a first responder.
Jack spent 18 months training as a fireman in Ireland before following in his nurse mum Fiona’s footsteps and becoming a medic.
Like Arthur – part of Stortford’s Poppy Appeal team for four decades – Jack supports the armed services as a 'Steelback' serving with 3rd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, an Army reserve light infantry battalion. He would ordinarily have been with his 3 (Essex) Company colleagues, based in Chelmsford, to mark Remembrance but work-related errands kept him in Stortford – ready to help Arthur.
Sharon thanked the Indie for putting her and Jack in touch – contact which they have maintained. "He is our hero, though he is so humbled by it all," she said.
Meanwhile, two weeks after the incident, Arthur remains in Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. Sharon said: "He's had a stent fitted and is awaiting a pacemaker some time this week. He's expected to be in there at least another 10 to 14 days.
"He's doing well, considering everything, though he's bored sitting around as he's usually busy and active. He's reading a book a day at the moment as well as doing puzzles and crosswords, which he loves."
Due to coronavirus restrictions, only Arthur's wife Linda is allowed to visit him, which she does for an hour a day. "Though he does walk to the door to say hello to us," said Sharon.
"He is overwhelmed by all of the well wishes he has had and thanks everyone for their care and support of him and us as a family."