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Larkfield: Heroic nurse Angie Cooke saves life of collapsed driver in New Hythe Lane

By David Gazet

A heroic nurse dropped everything to save the life of a driver who collapsed at the wheel in Larkfield.

Angie Cooke, who works at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, was on her way to the supermarket with her two-year-old son when she noticed the car in front of her had stopped at a strange angle at traffic lights in New Hythe Lane.

Mrs Cooke, who manages ward 31, got out of her car and ran to the car in front to check on the driver. She found 58-year-old Ivo Fossaluzza unresponsive, showing no signs of life.

Ivo Fossaluzza with nurse Angie Cooke, who saved him when he collapsed at the wheel from a massive heart attack Picture: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
Ivo Fossaluzza with nurse Angie Cooke, who saved him when he collapsed at the wheel from a massive heart attack Picture: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

The 38-year-old pulled the driver’s door open and started CPR, shouting for someone to call an ambulance.

Other drivers ran to her aid, with two men helping her to lift Mr Fossaluzza out of his vehicle so she could continue CPR on the pavement.

Mrs Cooke, who is from Tonbridge, said: “A man who came over to help took it in turns with me to carry out CPR and we actually managed to revive Ivo. However, his heart stopped beating again so we carried on with basic life-saving skills until the paramedics came.”

"After everything that happened, I was suddenly on my way to Tesco again, like it was a normal day. But it was far from that. When I got to the car park, I burst into tears." - Angie Cooke, senior nurse at Tunbridge Wells Hospital

Ambulance paramedics took over from Mrs Cooke, using a defibrillator to shock Mr Fossaluzza's heart while he lay on the pavement.

“It was very strange,” said Mrs Cooke, After everything that happened, I was suddenly on my way to Tesco again, like it was a normal day. But it was far from that. When I got to the car park, I burst into tears.

"I think the stress of what had just happened and the worry I had for Ivo caught up with me.”

Mr Fossaluzza was brought to Maidstone Hospital A&E department and treated for a major cardiac arrest in intensive care. An implantable cardioverter defibrillator was fitted before he went home just over a week after he was admitted.

The Rochester resident said: “I have no recollection of what happened, so in many ways, it was much easier for me than it was for everyone else who was trying to help and dealing with the panic of the situation.

"The last thing I remember is finishing a job and starting to drive home. After that, I don’t remember anything until a couple of days later when I was in hospital.

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

“I can honestly say I feel better now than I did before I had the cardiac arrest. I am eating healthily, doing plenty of exercise and I’m looking forward to going back to work very soon.

The swimming pool service manager added: “There’s no doubt that Angie is my guardian angel and saying thank you to her for what she did is never going to be enough.”

Wife, Paula, said: “Ivo had phoned me to say he was on his way home when he had the cardiac arrest. I thought he had lost his mobile phone signal so I had no idea what had really happened until much later on.

“Angie didn’t have to stop when she did, she could so easily have made the choice to drive on. We know that, if it hadn’t been for Angie, and the local community, Ivo wouldn’t be here. You just can’t put our gratitude into words.”

“There’s no doubt that Angie is my guardian angel and saying thank you to her for what she did is never going to be enough.” - Ivo Fossaluzza

Since the incident, which happened in January the company Mr Fossaluzza works for has sent all of its employees on a first aid course, to ensure they all know what to do in an emergency.

Mrs Cooke added, “I don’t feel like I did anything heroic, I just instinctively did what I think anyone in that situation would do. The community and other drivers in New Hythe Lane were amazing."

Claire O’Brien, MTW interim chief nurse said: "While Angie doesn’t believe she has done anything out of the ordinary, we know that she was instrumental in saving Mr Fossaluzza’s life and we are extremely proud of her."

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