Aberdeen based firefighter supporting life saving project

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Inverness native Greg Wilson is supporting the Sandpiper Trust's Wildcat Project

Central Fire Station 3 Peaks Challenge

Greg Wilson is pictured in the centre in his firefighting gear

An Aberdeen based firefighter who almost died due to a rare heart condition is backing a project aimed at setting up a network of community first responders trained and equipped to use CPR and defibrillators.

Greg Wilson, 24, is helping to raise money for the Sandpiper Trust’s Wildcat project, the aim of which is to raise the survival rates of patients with emergency heart problems living in remote areas of Grampian and other areas of Scotland.

The charity has already raised over £730,000 which will be used to purchase the equipment and train volunteers in 50 locations in Grampian and Lothian.

The firefighter from Aberdeen’s White Watch is a native of Inverness but works at Central Fire Station in the Granite City.

In October 2012 Greg suffered a sudden cardiac arrest as a result of a relatively rare heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW). In the UK it is predicted that between 1 and 3 people in every 1,000 have the condition.

WPW is caused by an additional electrical connection in the heart, known as an ‘accessory pathway’ which can cause rapid electrical conduction, creating a short circuit and in very rare circumstances can lead to a cardiac arrest.

Greg said: “I was asleep at home when I had a cardiac arrest, but fortunately for me my brothers were on hand to save me from what would have otherwise been a fatal arrhythmia.

“Had a defibrillator not been there so soon I would not be here today and that’s why I got involved with the Wildcat Project and why I feel so passionately about it.”

He added: “Within the first ten minutes of stopping breathing, your chances of survival drops every minute without early intervention. I can’t over emphasise enough that every minute counts and how important it is to have access to a defibrillator and people trained in the use of CPR.

“At least 12 seemingly fit and healthy young people under the age of 35 die every week in the UK as a result of undiagnosed cardiac conditions such as Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).”

Greg’s brother Graham, a fully qualified doctor at Raigmore in Inverness was trained in the use of CPR and he worked on him for ten minutes until the ambulance crew arrived with a defibrillator. Paramedics used the defibrillator to revive Greg and he was taken to hospital for treatment.

Heart disease is the biggest killer in Scotland. Currently, of all patients in rural Scotland who suffer a cardiac arrest outside the hospital environment, only 1% survive.

The project initially operated in the Grampian region but looks set to be rolled out throughout the country. It has the potential to save at least 300 lives per annum. This would be a massive achievement in terms of the Trust’s objective of “saving live in rural Scotland.”