A former Kennoway resident is saving lives and helping to shape healthcare in India by training people in CPR.
Paula McLean (47) moved to the Indian city of Bangalore in March last year with her daughter and husband after he got a job in IT.
After growing up in the Levenmouth village, and attending St Andrews High School in Kirkcaldy, Paula trained as a nurse at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmiry before moving to London in 1996, where she ended up as Resuscitation Service Manager at St Georges Healthcare NHS Trust and Honorary lecturer for St Georges University London.
She was also one of the principle investigators of The Aware study - a multi centre study of ‘Awareness During Resuscitation’ which also looked at near death experiences, published by Dr Sam Parnia.
It was this vast knowledge of the field that helped her to save the life of a driver in Bangalore earlier this year.
After the man collapsed outside of her building with chest pains, security guards rushed for her help as they were aware of her medical background.
She started CPR immediately and thanks to her quick actions, he was able to make a full rcovery.
“The people who have heart attacks here tend to be much younger than people in the west. Anthony, the driver I resuscitated, was only in his early 40s,” said Paula.
“Men are generally the sole breadwinners so on top of emotional impact the financial impact to Anthony’s family had he died would have been devastating as there is no NHS or social service back-up here.”
After the incident, Paula decided she wanted to spread the word about CPR and joined forces with a local community forum called Whitefield Rising, based in the suburb of Whitefield where she lives.
“They identify things within the community that need to be changed, for example there are big problems here with sanitation, lack of water, lack of access to medical care for the poorer members of the community, pollution issues, traffic issues and many other things,” said Paula.
“Whitefield Rising identifies people with key skills in these areas and sets up focus groups, identifies goals and connects people who can help in achieving the goals.”
Since joining forces with the forum in March this year, Paula has trained over 100 people in CPR, including the security staff who called on her for help, and the goal is to reach 500 by Christmas.
“If we achieve our goal and continue that by training others to train, the chances of people in the Whitefield community receiving bystander CPR increase and consequently anyone having a cardiac arrest has an increased chance of survival.”