Heart attack man’s 14 years of gratitude

Paramedic Salena Alcock
Paramedic Salena Alcock
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In the run up to Christmas 1999 paramedic Salena Alcock saved the life of Richard Jacobs after a heart attack.

It is an everyday occurrence for the Bury St Edmunds paramedic, but what makes this call out different is that they are still in touch 14 years later.

Richard and Chris Jacobs

Richard and Chris Jacobs

Every year, Richard, who then lived in Norton, has written to Salena around the anniversary of his heart attack.

Last week he said from his home in Somerset: “How do you thank someone for saving your life? I haven’t found a way to do it.”

Salena said: “It’s got to the stage where I really look forward to his emails. We tried to get together this year, because it was his 70th birthday, but I couldn’t get time off work.”

One Saturday afternoon Richard suffered chest pains and told his wife, Chris, ‘we’ve got a bit of a problem’.

They dialled 999 and the next thing Richard knew Salena had arrived and he was drifting in and out of consciousness on his way to hospital.

By strange coincidence, a few months later Richard had to call an ambulance when Chris fell ill and he went the door to find Salena. That was when he hit on the idea of writing to her.

This year’s letter said: “I spend plenty of time at Samaritans and that work is incredibly rewarding. Just think of all the people I have spoken to over the last seven or eight years and none of that would have been possible without all that you did for me that Saturday afternoon back in 1999.”

Salena, a paramedic for 20 years, said: “I’ve never had anything like this before, the messages really cheer me up if I’m having a bad day and they’ve inspired me to keep doing what I’m doing.“