Mum wants 20 defibrillators in hometown after son went into cardiac arrest and died

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A mum is requesting that 20 defibrillators be installed in her hometown, after her teenager son went into cardiac arrest and died.

18-year-old Jamie Rees, collapsed in the early hours of New Year’s Day last year – and the nearest kit was locked away.

He was at a friend’s house when he went into cardiac arrest, and he sadly died in hospital five days later.

Due to oversubscribed NHS services, the nearest available ambulance crew – stationed miles away – was unable to save Jamie in time.

His friends were forced to perform CPR in a desperate attempt to save him, as the nearest available defibrillator kit was locked away in Jamie’s old school.

By the time paramedics were at Jamie’s side, his brain had been starved of oxygen and he died in hospital on January 5 2022.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said the New Year period was exceptionally busy, and apologised to Jamie’s family.

But his relatives have now established a fundraiser, OurJay, to give Jamie’s hometown of Rugby 20 defibrillators.

More will be given to Warwickshire if the fundraising goes well.

Mum Naomi Rees-Issitt, 43, said: “It wasn’t until we lost Jamie we realised how few defibrillators there are. There are defibs out there locked in buildings.

“You can’t pre-plan your cardiac arrest. Defibrillator’s that are locked in buildings are pretty pointless.

“There was a defib nearby but it was locked in his old high school. With the ambulance delays and the defib locked away, his friends were trying hard with CPR.

“It was six weeks after his 18th. He’d been at his friend Nathan’s house just welcoming in the new year. Watched some fireworks going off nearby.

“There were standing in the garage and having a dance.

“Jamie turned to one of his friends and said he felt a bit funny. He sat down by a tree and he slumped over and they noticed he wasn’t breathing.

“His other friend Josh started CPR on Jamie, and Nathan’s mum called 999. Josh also called 999 and the dispatcher talked him through it.

“Up until September last year we had standby ambulances in Rugby.

“The nearest ambulance was 15 miles away in Coventry the night Jamie died, hence why it took so long.

“We don’t blame the ambulance crew, we understand it was a busy night.

“If you reach a person of cardiac arrest in seven minutes, the chances of getting his heart beating again is 70 per cent.

“Jamie didn’t die from cardiac arrest – it was the oxygen starvation. He died from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.

“Jamie sadly didn’t stand a chance. Jamie won’t be the last one, if anything it’s getting worse.”

Following ambulance delays and due to a lack defibrillators nearby, Naomi and the rest of Jamie’s family decided to start fundraising to get a defibrillator kit installed.

But what started with just the one defibrillator has now turned into 20 kits due to the amount of local support the family has received.

Naomi, a mum-of-two and a manager for a charity, added: “Jamie was the best lad, he put everything in. He was going to be a plumber.

“He loved everyone and everyone loved him. He loved life, animals, his computer and his family.

“It’s called the OurJay foundation and we’re setting it up as a charity.

“We started funding for money to set up a defibrillator outside a school. We set up Jamie’s JustGiving on January 26.

“By the 27th, we’d raised £3,000. Jamie was really loved by members of his college and his friends.

“We realised we surpassed one defibrillator and thought, ‘let’s carry on’. We went up and up.

“I put a post out to businesses at Rugby for raffle prizes. We gave away holidays, meals – 65 prizes.

“We’re still going up and up. Now we want to get 20 [defibrillators] installed by January 5, 2023, the one-year anniversary.

“We’ve done a bingo night, £6,175 raised on August 5.

“Toyota donated £400 after doing fundraising. We’ve had people with long hair being chopped off for it.

“We have a skydive with my sister and her husband with the British Army Parachute regiment coming up, too.

“We’re all pretty exhausted. It’s blown everyone away, the support has been amazing.

“We can’t thank people enough but we’re hopefully giving something back to Rugby.

“These defibs, we get a grant for each one from London Hearts. £1,650 to buy normally with the casing – we get them for £1,237. All the kits we provide have a bleed kit.

“It’s such a minor amount of money to save a life. All our defibs are done by an electrician in Rugby, Top Marks, who offered to do it for free.

“Some of the businesses in Rugby are unbelievable with the support.”

It’s not the only way Jamie has given back to the community.

His family found out he was an organ donor, and his organs have saved five lives.

Naomi added: “He’s already saved five lives, five of his organs worked as a match, one of them was a baby girl.

“It was a bit of a weird thing for us. He told us he had always wanted to be a organ donor. He had signed the organ donor register three times.

“Six weeks after we lost Jamie, we got an email to say that all five organs had worked.

“A girl was treated the next night. Within an hour all five organs had found a match after we confirmed.

“We know Jamie is out there. He’s meant to be saving lives.”

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson told the Birmingham Mail previously: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of Jamie Rees and apologise for the delay in responding on New Year’s Day.

“New Year’s Day was the busiest the trust has ever experienced, nearly a quarter busier than the previous busiest New Year’s Day.

“In Rugby, in the 90 minutes before we received the first 999 call to Jamie, there had been three other emergency calls, which would have meant any ambulances based in the town would already have been with patients. So we sent the nearest available ambulance.

“The closure of community ambulance stations, including the one in Rugby, is allowing us to respond to between 5,000 and 6,000 more patients than we would previously have been able to; allowing us to get to more patients, more quickly than before.

“Unfortunately, the whole of the NHS remains under severe pressure and long hospital handover delays do mean patients are waiting longer for an ambulance.

“That is why we are working so closely with local partners to find ways to reduce those delays so that our crews can get to patients more quickly than we currently do.

“Our staff and volunteers continue to work tirelessly to provide the best patient care we can. In recent months we have increased the number of call handlers, frontline staff and community first responders as well as introducing measures to allow us to get to the most seriously injured and unwell patients as soon as possible.”

You can donate to the family’s JustGiving here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ourjay