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Ambulance driver Marco Jochem: ‘The ambulance sometimes can’t get there in those crucial 6 minutes’

25 November 2016

Volunteer first response saves lives. Ambulance driver Marco Jochem from the independent ambulance organisation Witte Kruis Zeeland found this out for himself during a call-out. A car accident turned out to be caused by the cardiac arrest of the 70 year old driver. When the ambulance arrived after about ten minutes, Angela Heijboer, who happened to pass by, and store employee Yasha Tra were already performing CPR. And successfully too, as the victim survived. Marco tells us why he was so happy with these volunteers.


Domestic care nurse Angela was on her way when she saw the accident happen. She pulled over to help the victim. When she arrived at the car, the cause of the accident was immediately clear to her: she recognised the gasping sound of a victim dying of cardiac arrest. That is why, after getting the patient out of the car, she immediately started to administer CPR and artificial respiration.


Across the street, Yasha was working in the diving shop when he witnessed the accident and saw Angela begin resuscitation. He did not hesitate, pulled the store AED down from the wall and ran to the scene of the incident. Once hooked up, the defibrillator confirmed Angela’s diagnosis. After two ‘hits’ from the AED, we got in the ambulance.


Even before Angela started resuscitation, our control room in Middelburg received the emergency call. It described an accident with only one party involved. I know that road quite well, and my first reaction was: that’s an unusual place for such an accident. That is why I did not immediately understand what was going on. We quickly left our station in Burgh-Haamstede for the scene of the incident.

Cardiac arrest

We arrived in the ambulance about ten minutes after the call. The fire brigade had already arrived and had pulled the spouse from the car. This allowed our medical staff to focus on the gentleman. At first, we knelt down with the victim and the civilians providing CPR. Yahsa and Angela’s transfer was very good: short and clear. This quickly gave us a complete picture: we were dealing with cardiac arrest.


Our people hooked up the heart massage device, called LUCAS. We then defibrillated another two times. That was enough to get the heart rhythm going again. The victim’s natural breathing went back to normal as well. However, in consultation with the doctor, the victim was taken to the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam by air ambulance. The suspicion of internal injury from the impact during the accident was correct: the victim’s spleen was ruptured. He went into surgery immediately.

Hart van Nederland

Often, first responders never find out the outcome of the victim. Thanks to a “Hart van Nederland” broadcast, we know that the victim is doing well: he made a full recovery. The victim’s son-in-law showed a video where his father-in-law thanked all the first responders personally. That was impressive; we hardly ever get to see something like that.

Resuscitation training

As a sign of gratitude for their resolute action, Angela and Yasha were given a bouquet of flowers by our employer, Witte Kruis Zeeland. They had earned it. The ambulance could not get there in those crucial six minutes. If those two people hadn’t been there, the man certainly wouldn’t have survived. They knew exactly what to do. If you don’t, things often go wrong during resuscitation. That is why I’m calling on everyone to take the resuscitation course. This is just another case that proves how useful it is. The ambulance cannot get everywhere within six minutes every time. That is why volunteer assistance is very welcome.