‘All I could say was thank you’ – MBDA worker reunited with Herts Air Ambulance crew who helped save her life after Stevenage collapse

Nikki Duffy is reunited with Herts Air Ambulance pre-hospital care doctor Ainsley Heyworth who helpe

Nikki Duffy is reunited with Herts Air Ambulance pre-hospital care doctor Ainsley Heyworth who helped save her life after the commercial executive collapsed while working at MBDA in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant

A woman who collapsed and stopped breathing while at work in Stevenage has been reunited with the air ambulance crew who helped save her life.

The Herts Air Ambulance flies off from Stevenage after Nikki Duffy collapsed at work. Picture Dayle

The Herts Air Ambulance flies off from Stevenage after Nikki Duffy collapsed at work. Picture Dayle Clarke - Credit: Archant

Nikki Duffy was finally able to say thank you in person when she paid a visit to Herts Air Ambulance’s airbase in North Weald last week.

Back on November 30, the 48-year-old was sitting at her desk at MBDA Missile Systems in Six Hills Way when she collapsed without warning.

Two first-aid trained colleagues at the missiles and defence company performed CPR and used a defibrillator after her heart stopped beating, before the air ambulance’s Ainsley Heyworth and Louise Rosson arrived on the scene to take over.

Pre-hospital care doctor Ainsley and critical care paramedic Louise were able to stabilise Nikki, before pilot Nick Clarkson airlifted her to the Queen’s Hospital in Essex.

Nikki Duffy with criticial care unit staff at Queen's Hospital just over a week after she collapsed

Nikki Duffy with criticial care unit staff at Queen's Hospital just over a week after she collapsed while working at MBDA in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant


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“I don’t remember anything from that day at all, but I know I didn’t feel unwell,” said Nikki, who returned to work this week.

“It was a real shock to hear I had a cardiac arrest.”

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The commercial executive – who has worked for MBDA for 29 years – was in an induced coma for two days before waking up, with her husband Brian at her side to greet her.

She was later transferred to Bartholomew’s Hospital in London for further tests, where she had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted and was diagnosed with Long QT syndrome – a rare inherited or acquired heart condition.

The Herts Air Ambulance has landed in Six Hills Way, Stevenage. Picture: James Randall

The Herts Air Ambulance has landed in Six Hills Way, Stevenage. Picture: James Randall - Credit: Archant

Reflecting on an emotional reunion and returning to work, Nikki said: “All I could say to Ainsley and Nick when I met them was ‘thank you’ – they saved my life and I will never forget that.

“I’m looking forward to getting a routine back at work and seeing everyone in the office.”

Husband Brian, who lives with Nikki at their home in Rushden and runs Halls Green-based design and print business Graphix, said: “I didn’t realise that Herts Air Ambulance was a charity.

“I am so grateful for the work both her colleagues, the paramedics and the air ambulance team did on the day of Nikki’s incident and for letting us visit to say ‘thank you’.”

Ainsley added: “It was great to see Nikki here again today after a cardiac arrest – her recovery is testament to her colleagues having had CPR training and being able to treat Nikki so quickly.

“We encourage everyone to take CPR training, as it does save lives – Nikki is just one example that highlights how important this is.”

For more information about Herts Air Ambulance and how to donate visit www.hertsairambulance.uk.com or call 0345 504 0055.

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