Awards for quick-thinking heroes who gave chest compressions to heart attack victim in Northampton

Darren Butcher has been recognised by the Royal Humane Society after saving the life of a heart attack victim in Ecton.
Darren Butcher has been recognised by the Royal Humane Society after saving the life of a heart attack victim in Ecton.

A Northampton man and woman and a Wellingborough police officer have been awarded top national life-saving honours after a roadside life-and death battle to bring a motorist who suffered a heart attack at the wheel back from the brink of death.

The horror incident happened at midday on 20 April in Northampton Road, Earls Barton. The car driver from Ecton was crossing a junction when he suffered the heart attack and his vehicle accelerated into two other stationary cars that were waiting to turn.

Darren Butcher, 47, of 4 Tinsley Close, Cherry Lodge, Northampton, and Sally Harris. 59, of 102 Great Meadow, Blackthorn, Northampton, were at the scene and rushed to help. They managed to pull the driver from his car and found that he was unconscious and not breathing.

Thankfully, Mr Butcher makes a living as a first aid trainer and immediately began administering cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with Sally's help.

The two were then joined by PC Jessica Bradbrook who is based at Wellingborough. She took over CPR and eventually managed to revive the heart attack victim before paramedics arrived to take over.

Now PC Bradbrook, Mr Butcher and Ms Harris have all been awarded Royal Humane Society Resuscitation Certificates for reviving the victim.

In addition to the awards, they are to receive they have also won the personal praise of Andrew Chapman, Secretary of the Royal Humane Society.

Speaking at the Society’s London headquarters as he announced the awards he said: “Time is of the essence in situations like this and the sooner CPR can be started the better the chances are of the heart attack victim surviving. Swift CPR means that when the paramedics arrive the person is in the best possible conditions for survival.

“These three award winners did a wonderful job and they all richly deserve the awards they are to receive. Their swift action brought the victim back from the brink of death.”

No date has yet been fixed for presentation of the awards but they are expected to take place in the near future.

Mr Butcher, a former manager at Danes Camp Leisure Centre, who is now a full-time first aid coach, said it was lucky he was walking by. He was just returning from a run to the Ecton tip.

Furthermore, Ms Harris, who assisted him, actually recognised him because she had been on one of his courses in the past.

"Obviously I have a lot of experience in that field," said Darren. "I have been doing first aid for 30 years and I have been a trainer for 20. It's one of those things, sometimes it comes down to luck, how many ambulances are available and who is walking by.

"The message I try to get over is that if you do nothing, people will die. If you try and help they have a chance."

Mr Butcher has recommended anyone take a first aid course, claiming to have administered CPR more than 30 times during his life.

The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. The Queen is its patron and its president is Princess Alexandra. It is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.

It was founded in 1774 by two of the day's eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan. Their primary motive was to promote techniques of resuscitation.

However, as it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, the awards scheme evolved, and today a variety of awards are made depending on the bravery involved.

The Society also awards non-health care professionals who perform a successful resuscitation. Since it was set up the Society has considered over 88,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards. The Society is a registered charity which receives no public funding and is dependent on voluntary donations.

It was one of a select number of organisations to receive a donation from the Patron’s fund which was set up to acknowledge work done by organisations of which the Queen is the patron, to mark her 90th birthday.