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BCH ER Nurse Credits UK First Responders With Saving His Life

man in hospital bed

Matt Chamberlayne, 46, a Boulder Community Health Emergency Department nurse, is no stranger to medical emergencies.

But the husband and father of three became the emergency himself when his heart suddenly stopped during a seaside run halfway through his family vacation in Devon, England.

"My heart suddenly dropped into a 'rhythm' called ventricular fibrillation which isn't much of a rhythm at all, just 'twitchy-twitchy' instead of organized pumping, and is definitely not compatible with life," Matt wrote in a Facebook post from his hospital bed in England. "I dropped like a sack of rocks."

Luckily it happened near three women – Alison Upton, Hannah Shiels and Rachel Palmer -- one a doctor and the other who has just completed a CPR course.

group in front of a lake"I was about half a mile down from the lifeguard station," Matt recounted later during an interview.

"Alison, Hannah and Rachael were the three women runners who first saw me go down. Two of them, Hannah, who is a physician, and Rachael, who had recently taken a CPR course, immediately started CPR while Alison ran back to the lifeguard station."

Meanwhile, Henry Irvine, a lifeguard and elite-level triathlete was fortunately on the beach getting ready for his swim training.

"Henry was able to access the medical kit and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and rode his bike with that equipment to where I was." Matt said, "They were able to restart my heart with one shock from the AED on scene while EMS responded and the helicopter was dispatched to our location."

The AED delivered a life-saving electrical charge to Matt's heart.

man in a hospital bedMatt credits the group's knowledge of CPR and basic first aid with saving his life.

A medical helicopter made a dramatic landing near the seawall and Matt was transported to The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Doctors implanted an AICD (Automatic Internal Cardioverter Defibrillator) in his chest to protect it from happening again.

Now safely recovering at home in Boulder, Matt is seeing Boulder Heart cardiologist Dr. John McNeil for follow up care and is returning to work at BCH later this month. He is urging others to become trained in CPR and basic first aid.

"Without each of these rockstar humans doing their part I would, without uncertainty, be dead," Matt wrote in an emotional Facebook post after his collapse. "No more friends. no more being a dad, son, brother, husband or nurse. No more trips, concerts, Christmases, camping, beers, jokes, jogs, camping, birthdays, bike rides, road trips or kid cuddles ... just dead."

man in a hospital bed"Do it for your kids, or your spouse, best friend or a stranger," Matt wrote. "Do it to be a hero."

On Facebook, some of Matt's BCH coworkers reached out to thank the UK heroes for helping to save Matt's life.

"Thank you for saving our friend and co-worker!" wrote Foothills Hospital imaging RN Ryan Huebscher, "Matt is a great guy and a great ER nurse and yes, saves people on the regular without recognition or praise except by our team. Thanks for being a hero and saving our hero!"

"Matt is a valued member of the Boulder Community Health team," wrote 2 West RN Christine Eaton. "And we need him. Also he's a really good guy, so thanks."

Matt's family and friends have set up a crowdfunding page to help defray his family's costs of the overseas medical intervention.

Be a hero! Learn how to become CPR trained here. And here's a quick graphic about how to perform CPR.