A WRC fan will make an emotional return to the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB stages next week (26-29 October) – 12 months after his life was saved by the rally's stage rescue and medical teams.
Rob Hemmings, an amateur rally co-driver and life-long rallying enthusiast, was taken ill close to the start of the Gartheiniog stage on the Saturday morning of last year's rally.
It was immediately apparent that he had suffered a heart attack and the on-stage action was delayed while the stage rescue and medical team, including two doctors and two paramedics, was scrambled to the scene along with St John Ambulance volunteers. They arrived less than a minute after the alarm was raised.
The quick response and life-saving intervention of the rally's medical personnel meant Rob could be transported to Morriston Hospital in Swansea for further critical care. Despite his heart stopping 13 times en route to hospital, Rob defied the odds and survived.
He plans to return to the Gartheiniog stage next week with his wife Jayne, someone who administered CPR immediately after her husband collapsed, and take in the thrilling WRC action that they missed in 2016.
"The rescue and medical team and the marshals on the stage were absolutely amazing – they literally saved my life and I would like to thank each and every one of them," Rob said.
“If it had happened at home, I would have died. If it had happened at work, I would probably have died. Having that level of medical assistance on the ground unquestionably saved my life."
Carl Jones, a member of the Staffs Rescue motor sport ambulance team that was providing rescue and medical cover on the stage, drove Rob out of Gartheiniog forest to another waiting ambulance.
He was reunited with Rob and his wife Jayne (pictured above) during the launch of the 2017 rally at Cholmondeley Castle. He said: "This is something you very rarely see. I honestly never thought Rob would survive but I'm very glad that he did.”