Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby spent just over two weeks in intensive care as his body battled COVID-19.
Phil had recorded a short video from his hospital bed in intensive care just before he was intubated and placed on a mechanical ventilator after his lungs stopped working correctly owing to the virus.
He uploaded the video to his Twitter page, highlighting that his condition had got a lot worse on the same day that his daughter celebrated her 15th birthday.
Phil tweeted this message the day before he was rushed into hospital
From the moment Phil first contracted COVID-19, he kept his thousands of Twitter followers updated on his condition as he initially fought the battle at home.
But after his health deteriorated, he called NHS 111 for advice.
After speaking with a healthcare professional over the phone, an emergency ambulance was sent to Phil’s address, and he was rushed into hospital.
After Phil posted the video from the inside of his isolation unit in intensive care, his twitter account went quiet for nearly two weeks.
Colleagues and well-wishers sent messages to Phil, wishing him a speeding recovery. But nobody, other than his family, friends and colleagues, knew how Phil was getting on as his immune system fought off the COVID-19 cells which were trying to destroy his lungs.
People who had never met Phil started to tweet, asking if anyone knew how Phil was getting on.
For nearly two weeks, Phil’s twitter account fell silent until this tweet let his thousands of followers know that he was on the mend
And then, last Sunday, Phil updated his Twitter followers to let them know that he was on the mend. And now, Phil has been wheeled out of the intensive care unit to carry on his recovery in slightly calmer surroundings.
As Phil was wheeled out of the ICU at the Worcester Royal Hospital, he made an emotional speech (scroll down for the video), thanking the truly remarkable men and women who had helped to save his life.
Phil rang the customary bell as he was wheeled out of ICU
Phil’s wife, Mary, has asked the public to continue to observe the lockdown rules to save as many lives as possible.
“Phil would certainly not fall into what’s deemed the ‘vulnerable’ category: he’s only 45 and a fit man. Our experience shows people of all ages can be susceptible to coronavirus, so please adhere to the warnings.
“We can’t express enough our gratitude for the doctors and nurses at Worcester Royal. Without their care and medical expertise, we wouldn’t be welcoming Phil back home. I can’t put into words how thankful we are.
Mary said not being able to comfort her husband of 25 years – and waiting anxiously by the phone for updates on his condition – was the worst part of her ordeal.
Phil was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he received
“I wasn’t able to speak to or see Phil after he was taken by paramedics. That’s the worst thing. Normally if a loved one is ill, you can be with them, hold their hand and comfort them – but coronavirus deprives you of that.
“That’s the hardest thing for family and friends of people suffering this dreadful virus, you can’t be there for them, and you have no choice but to put all your faith in the NHS staff and pray. That’s what we did.
“It was hard to sleep at night, and the days drag on so long. There is nothing to occupy your mind, no friends to speak to face-to-face or hug.
“The hospital staff are so busy they can’t give regular updates on patients’ conditions – all their attention, rightly so, is going into treating people and trying to help them recover. When we did speak to staff they were always very calm, kind, compassionate and a reassuring voice.
“They did manage to set up a camera when he was in ICU so we could see Phil and his surroundings. It helped being able to visualise where he was. It was a video chat facility but it was a one-way conversation as by that stage he was sedated. But it helped just being able to speak to him and see him; it gave us some peace of mind.”
On 8 April, the day before Mary’s birthday, Phil came off a ventilator but still needed additional oxygen supplies to support his breathing.
It was the first sign he was beating COVID-19.
Mary added: “He missed my birthday in intensive care but gave me the best present I could have wished for when he started breathing for himself.
“It’s amazing he’s back home with us, but he still has a long road to recovery. He just needs to rest and build up his strength which was drained from weeks in bed.
“My job will be to make sure he doesn’t try to get ahead of himself and do things too quickly. And that might mean confiscating his phone, so he’s not spending too much time on Twitter!”
Dad-of-three Phil – who heads up West Midlands Polices’ Criminal Justice Department – has worked with West Midlands Police for 26 years.
The government restrictions mean everyone is ordered to stay at home until at least 8 May and only head outdoors for food necessities, medicine, essential work, brief exercise or to help a vulnerable person.
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