A grateful Leighton man who cheated death twice wants to reach out to ambulance crews and NHS staff to say a heartfelt thank you for saving his life.
Rob Bellis, 47, of West Side, known for feeding jacket potatoes to the town’s homeless, suffered a severe asthma attack in his flat on the evening of March 9. An ambulance was called as Rob’s wife saw him struggling to breathe.
Crews arrived minutes later, but Rob’s condition deteriorated, and he had to be resuscitated before he was rushed to Luton and Dunstable Hospital, needing to be resuscitated again on route.
Rob, now recovering back at home, recalled: “It all started with a shortness of breath and within 45 minutes I was being resuscitated.
“I remember feeling light headed, my legs were weak, and I felt like I was going to collapse.
“The paramedics turned up as well as Leighton-Linslade First Responder ‘Carl’ who has been out to see me a couple of times before and always managed to get my asthma under control.
“I was sitting on the sofa when I collapsed, and had to be resuscitated on the lounge floor.”
Rob said the next thing he remembers is being in the back of the ambulance leaving his flat, his wife travelling with the crew in the front.
The crews were heading to Luton and Dunstable Hospital, but then Rob said events took a worrying turn.
He explained: “We had to stop along the A5 near McDonalds and the air ambulance came out.
“I’d stopped breathing and needed to be resuscitated - a doctor came out to give me more drugs.
“The next thing I knew I woke up in intensive care. To be honest it was a bit frightening.
“I had tubes in my nose and mouth and didn’t know where I was.
“My arms were black and blue from injections - I felt like a human pin cushion!”
Rob had been put in an induced coma, and woke up the next morning, staying in the hospital for a few days until he was well enough to go home on March 11.
He now wishes to reach out to the doctors, nurses, and ambulance crews who saved his life and pass on his heartfelt message of thanks.
Rob said: “I want to say thank you for coming out to me - it was a team effort, from the air ambulance, the crews, everybody.
“I didn’t get to say thank you to the nurses in resus either and the Intensive Care Unit were good at looking after me, as I was on a ventilator.
“They will say they were only doing their job, but it’s not just a case of doing their job. I would not be here now if it was not for the quick actions of these people.
“My wife thought she was going to lose a husband that night.”
Rob said the only person he has seen so far to say ‘thank you’ is Leighton-Linslade First Responder Carl, and would love the other NHS staff to hear of his thanks - as well as letting LBO land know how grateful he is to the staff and crews.
Rob said: “I want to thank everyone at Sacred Heart, Aspire and Open Door churches, as I know they have been praying for me. I want to thank ’Wigget’ for walking my dogs amd caring for me at home and my friends Sue and Gemma for helping him with the house. Everyone has been popping round to make sure I am OK!
“I’d also like to thank my friends Alan, Mark, The Bedfordshire Carers’ Cafe in Houghton Regis, and Emma at Cox and Robinson.”
Rob says he still feels a “bit shaky”, but the selfless survivor hopes to be back out in the town helping the homeless soon, his usual routine having been to hand out jacket potatoes every other Thursday.
Rob said: “It is just nice for people to have a chat with someone - you hope you might make a bit of a difference.”
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We received a call on March 9 at 9.49pm to reports of a man with breathing problems at an address on West Side in Leighton Buzzard.
“We dispatched two ambulance crews, a rapid response vehicle, an ambulance officer, and a medical response from the Magpas air ambulance charity.
“Medics were on scene within five minutes of the 999 call to assess the man before taking him to Luton and Dunstable Hospital via land ambulance for further care.”
The Ambulance Service has told the LBO it hopes to arrange a meeting between Rob and those who helped him.