AN ANTI-NERVE agent drug, never before used on a patient in the UK, was administered to one of the Novichok victims and ultimately saved his life, according to reports.

Charlie Rowley, 45, was exposed to the same noxious substance used to attack ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March last year.

Mr Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill in Amesbury months later after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the Novichok poisonings and then discarded.

Ms Sturgess died on July 8 last year.

Salisbury Journal: Charlie Rowley

Speaking to the Guardian, Wayne Darch, the head of emergency preparedness, resilience and response at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), said the first call following the collapse of Ms Sturgess was received at 10.15am on June 30.

He told the newspaper that there was nothing to make those responding think it was another poisoning, but how when a second call was logged for the same address at 6.20pm it was highlighted to the local commander who had helped the Skripals and went to Mr Rowley's property.

"It's unusual that we would get called to the same address on the same day for two separate patients," Mr Darch told the Guardian.

Salisbury Journal: Dawn Sturgess

"The crew that attended Charlie took a particular course of treatment," he said. "When that wasn't effective, they suspected that it may be nerve agent."

Without confirmation that he had come into contact with Novichok or another nerve agent, the paramedics put on protective suits, face masks, aprons and gloves, and treated Mr Rowley as if he had.

He was also given an anti-nerve agent which paramedics in the UK began to carry in response to the threat of al Qaida, according to the Guardian.

Mr Darch added: "They did a fantastic job under difficult circumstances and undoubtedly saved Charlie's life."

Unaware he had been given the antidote, in response to the revelation Mr Rowley told the newspaper that he does not remember it, but that he is "very grateful" for the way they treated him and Ms Sturgess.

Salisbury Journal: Police at the house in Muggleton Road in Amesbury where a couple fell ill after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok (Steve Parsons/PA)

He added: "I have to take my hat off to everyone who helped us."

In the wake of the two Novichok incidents, a number of paramedics who responded to them reported feeling unwell with issues including headaches and sore throats.

A spokesman for the SWASFT said: "Following what was a very stressful period for those who responded to the Novichok incidents, all crews involved in these incidents were given a full range of support and were cleared for work by Occupational Health on the specialist advice of Public Health England.

"We recognise that this was a difficult and uncertain time for our crews.

"They received daily contact from their managers, one-to-one sessions, group debriefs, specialist TRIM and Red Poppy counselling sessions, health monitoring from Public Health England and rapid access to Occupational Health and the Trust's Staying Well Service. This was also made available to their families.

"They all also received specialist advice and support in line with Public Health England guidelines in relation to a range of concerns, including signs, symptoms and blood testing as well as quarantine for equipment and uniforms. Access to this support continues to be available to any member of staff who has any ongoing concerns."

Salisbury Journal:

Two Russian nationals have been accused of travelling to the UK to try to murder Mr Skripal with Novichok - smearing the highly-toxic substance on the door handle of his home.

Evidence gathered by intelligence agencies led the Government to conclude that the men were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU.

The suspects - known by their aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement, with President Vladimir Putin claiming the two suspects were civilians, and the pair stating in an interview that they were tourists visiting Salisbury's famous cathedral.