A GRANDFATHER with an allergy to wasp stings almost died after he was stung six times whilst trying to remove a wasps’ nest.
Gary Harmer (pictured), 53, was rushed to hospital suffering from anaphylactic shock following the incident at the Crazy Lane Tourist Park in Sedlescombe last Friday afternoon (August 17).
The drama unfolded shortly before 1pm when Gary was helping a friend remove a wasps’ nest from the loft of the washing machine room on the campsite.
After disturbing the nest, the men hastily retreated from the loft, but Gary was stung several times on his right arm and on the right side of his neck.
He immediately started to feel very hot and his vision began to deteriorate.
Concerned campers dialled 999 and looked after Gary as they waited for the emergency services to arrive on the scene.
Wife Sue, 52, said: “He was in and out of consciousness and another lady who was on the site was keeping him awake and was telling him to keep breathing.”
The Kent Air Ambulance was called to the scene, but it was decided it would be quicker to take Gary to hospital via land ambulance, accompanied by the doctor and critical care paramedic from the air ambulance.
He was given adrenaline and antihistamines in the ambulance and rushed to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.
Sue was taken to a side room where she faced an agonising wait to find out whether her husband of 31 years was going to survive.
She said: “He was taken into resus and I was sent to the family room fearing the worst because he was critical.
“I was waiting for about 10 to 15 minutes then I was allowed to see him.
“He was aware I was there, but I suppose it was about an hour before he came round and knew what was going on.”
Luckily the emergency services had reached Gary in time and he was discharged from hospital just eight hours after being admitted.
Gary was allowed to return home once medical staff were satisfied he was not going to slip back into anaphylactic shock.
He must now carry an allergy pen around with him in case he is unfortunate enough to be stung again.
Sue said: “We knew he was allergic but usually he gets stung, he comes over a bit funny, I give him an antihistamine and put a bit of cream on it and he’s all right.”
She added “I still cannot get my head around it.
“One minute you are critical and then eight hours later you are out of hospital.”
The couple live in Claremont Road in Sidley, but are spending the summer at the caravan park, where they also help the site owners.
This week Gary, a retired British Gas fitter, paid tribute to those at the campsite who had acted so quickly and helped save his life.
He is tired but recovered from the trauma he knows could have been fatal and he feels thankful to have survived. I am good considering it was the difference between life and death,” he said.
The father-of-three added: “They were really good on the site, and if it hadn’t been for them I would not be here today.
“So a big thank you to Kerry who rang the ambulance and Jackie who was brilliant. She spoke to me and kept me going.”
He said he was “having a job” coming to terms with what happened.
“It’s a job to understand. I don’t think you can understand it, how such a small wasp can have this effect on you, and it makes you realise how fragile life is. I just want everyone else to be aware - especially those with kiddies - because you don’t really hear about this.”
Kent Air Ambulance clinical manager Rob Wilkinson said: “The majority of calls that the helicopter responds to are road traffic collisions and medical emergencies.
“We do occasionally get called to anaphylaxis, especially at this time of year.
“Anaphylaxis mediated by, for instance a wasp sting, is an immediate life-threatening situation.
“Although relatively rare these potentially fatal cases require prompt medical intervention as was given here.”