Harpenden property developer is a hero after saving two lives in three days

Harpenden property developer Matt Martin is a finalist for the St John Ambulance Everday Heroes awar

Harpenden property developer Matt Martin is a finalist for the St John Ambulance Everday Heroes awards. Photo by Keysha Jordan - Credit: Keysha Jordan

Few people could lay claim to saving the life of one person, but a Harpenden ‘hero’ has prevented the deaths of a woman choking on a chunk of steak, and a man having a suspected heart attack.

Saving two lives in the space of just three days has resulted in Matt Martin, 38, being shortlisted as a finalist in the annual St John Ambulance Everyday Heroes Awards.

In December last year, Matt, a property developer, was enjoying a Christmas lunch in a remote country pub with colleagues when he heard a diner calling for help.

Upon leaving his table, he saw a stricken elderly woman who was choking on a piece of steak.

He told the Herts Advertiser: “I could hear someone say they were calling an ambulance, so I went over and I could see the woman; she was looking a bit lifeless, and her eyes were glazing over.”

After the woman, aged in her 90s, was helped to her feet, Matt supported her in his arms.

He explained: “She wasn’t breathing, and she started getting heavier – her lips were going blue.

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“She was dying in my arms. I was holding her from behind, and I could see that she was slipping away, so I started doing abdominal thrusts. I did the Heimlich manoeuvre two or three times, and it dislodged the meat.”

Matt admitted he was “worried” about doing the manoeuvre as the woman “was quite frail, but I knew from past experience that because the pub was in a remote place, the ambulance wouldn’t get there quickly”.

He helped clear the woman’s mouth and placed her in the recovery position while awaiting the arrival of paramedics.

According to St John Ambulance, given the time it would have taken for the ambulance to arrive “Matt undoubtedly saved the woman’s life.”

However, during the incident there was little help from others in the pub, with Matt explaining that while she was choking, “no one did anything; that surprised me – other tables nearby moved away. I was shocked that no one else got involved.”

Then, just two days later he was at a clay pigeon shoot in Gustard Wood, with another group of people, when part-way through the event a man was taken ill with a suspected heart attack.

Matt said: “He was working at the clay pigeon shooting machine, when he said he wasn’t feeling very well. I turned around and could see him looking grey. I thought he was having a heart attack.”

He used skills he had learned at a St John Ambulance ‘basic first aid’ course last October – Matt is a first aider at the building firm – to treat the man until paramedics arrived.

The property developer added: “One of the other men there was a retained firefighter, so that was a joint effort, helping him.”

Although he has recently been shortlisted for a first aid champion award at a ceremony to be held on September 7 in London, Matt said: “I don’t think of myself as a hero. I’m just so pleased that everything I had learnt on the course was still fresh in my mind, and that I was able to offer help on both occasions. Without doubt, saving someone’s life is one of my proudest achievements.”