Heart attack pilot pays tribute to the Magpas medics who saved his life

HELIMEDIX HQ: Dave Gilham (right) with Simon Standen, one of the Magpas paramedics who gave him life-saving treatment.
HELIMEDIX HQ: Dave Gilham (right) with Simon Standen, one of the Magpas paramedics who gave him life-saving treatment.
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The former Spalding policeman who had a heart attack while piloting a plane yesterday met one of the Magpas helicopter paramedics who helped save his life.

Dave Gilham (61) at first thought he had flu when he aborted towing a glider at 1,200ft and set his Piper Pawnee down at Crowland Airfield.

LANDED SAFELY: Dave Gilham at the controls of the Piper Pawnee managed to land at Crowland Airfield on the day he had a heart attack in the sky.

LANDED SAFELY: Dave Gilham at the controls of the Piper Pawnee managed to land at Crowland Airfield on the day he had a heart attack in the sky.

He felt increasingly unwell and minutes later a friend at the club started to drive him to Peterborough City Hospital, but emergency services were called as Dave’s condition worsened and he was sick at the roadside.

A road ambulance and a helicopter crew, Magpas Helimedix, arrived quickly.

Dave, who is just weeks away from returning to the cockpit, said: “The ambulance crew turned up within a couple of minutes, put me on an ECG machine and told me I was having a heart attack. The helicopter landed in the field next to us and I was taken into Papworth, straight into theatre where they sorted me out, and then I was put in the high dependency unit, all inside two hours.”

He said Magpas were amazing as they treated him at the roadside.

“It’s like they brought an operating theatre to me,” said Dave. “Don’t forget most of the people in Magpas are volunteers doing this in their spare time – that makes it even more special to me that people will give up their days off. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be here now.”

Dave travelled to the Magpas Helimedix HQ at Huntingdon to thank the team for not only saving his life, but helping to ensure his speedy and complete recovery.

He said: “It’s almost like a closure thing.”

Magpas volunteer paramedic Simon Standen, who helped save Dave’s life on December 13, said: “It’s always really rewarding to catch up with your patients after the event and see how well they are doing. He looks a very different man to when we saw him last.”

Simon works in a busy A&E department at a Leicester hospital. Dave was a PC in Spalding from 1979-1986 and then became a sergeant in Grantham and an inspector at headquarters.