Man's praise for paramedics after near fatal rat biteBy Jonathan Low
September 17, 2012
A former police officer who almost died after suffering an allergic reaction when he was bitten by a rat has praised his family and emergency services for saving his life.
Victor Smallwood, 45, who lives in Jennett’s Park in Bracknell, was attacked by family pet ‘Cow Rat’, named after its cow-like markings, who took a chunk out of his hand.
But within half a minute of the attack Victor had sunk to his knees gasping for breath, his face swollen and blue.
He said: “The pain was just excruciating and my throat was closing up.
“I had already run my hand under cold water and wrapped it in a towel as it was a bite about an inch wide between my first and second knuckle.”
Victor’s wife Julie called an ambulance and when paramedics from Bracknell Ambulance Station arrived they found him purple, with his eyes and head swollen and in respiratory arrest.
They realised he had suffered a massive anaphylaxis attack which could lead to a heart attack.
The paramedics gave Victor adrenaline and chlorphenamine to combat the allergic reaction, before calling for back-up to help move him from the third floor of his home.
Victor was taken to intensive care at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where he spent four days.
He said: “My daughter Lauren was amazing – she saved my life.
“She and Julie, were there and I was told afterwards with their assistance I had two or three minutes until my heart stopped.
“And the emergency services were fantastic.”
Retired police officer Victor, who had been keeping rats for 16 years had never suffered injuries in the past.
He explained: “I’ve been nipped at a few times but nothing harmful.
“This was something completely out of character.”
Victor had to spend a further four days in the ward before being discharged, and also had to have his wedding ring cut off after the incident on July 20.
He added: “My hand was very swollen and very sore.
“The emergency services did a fantastic job and they looked after me spectacularly.
“I want to say thanks very much to them.”
Victor said he has been told to stay away from animals with fur, as he recovers at home.
He has a partial defect in vision as a result of the incident, but it is reducing.
“Rats are fantastic pets,” said Victor.
“They’re clean and intelligent, but I’m not having them again as it’s too much of a risk.”
This month Victor and Julie were reunited with the ambulance crews who helped save his life.
He concluded: “Although people will say that they were the only doing their job, they did it with flair, care and compassion.
“I hope they will keep in contact as they will always be part of the family.”
Paramedic Rebecca Sloane said: “It was lovely to meet Victor and Julie as we rarely get to see what happens to the patients we treat and we’re all delighted with the outcome for Victor and his family.
“I would like to express my thanks to Victor’s 22-year-old daughter Lauren. She was so calm and helpful in doing anything we asked of her.”