St Albans firefighter honoured for saving the life of man who collapsed at car boot sale

A St Albans firefighter saved the life of a man who collapsed at a boot fair.

A St Albans firefighter saved the life of a man who collapsed at a boot fair. - Credit: Cambs Fire Service

An off-duty firefighter who helped save the life of a car boot sale visitor has criticised those who coldheartedly stepped across the man’s legs while others fought desperately to save him.

Alan Tissington, of St Albans, has recently received a Royal Humane Society Resuscitation certificate after he was nominated for his “selfless public spirited actions”.

He was walking along an aisle at a car boot sale at Oldings Corner, Hatfield, on June 7 last year, when he noticed a collapsed “man on his back, and saw an off-duty police officer doing CPR”.

Alan added: “I could see people stepping over [the stricken man’s] legs, to get past him, and I thought that was terrible, while someone was doing CPR. To step over someone’s legs like that is outrageous.

“I went over to help him and said that I was a firefighter.

“I said, ‘you are going to need a hand; I’ll work on the chest while you do the breathing’.

“The man had been down for at least two minutes – he was out of it, with no signs of life. He was in his 50s.”

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Alan praised the police officer for his ‘amazing’ efforts, breathing into the man’s mouth, while he performed chest compressions.

As a firefighter based at a station in London, Alan has “done CPR on the job before, but very rarely are you successful. I do it as part of my job”.

While working desperately to save the man’s life at the car boot sale, Alan continued doing checks: “I was looking for vital signs of life. We did four to five cycles of CPR, and an off-duty nurse also offered to help. We worked on him for about five to 10 minutes, until a paramedic arrived, and he was happy for us to continue while he was setting up the defibrillator.

“The first time he used it, there were no signs of life, then after the second time, you could see signs of life in his face.

“Then an air ambulance and doctors arrived - they gave him a shot of adrenalin, and flew him away to hospital.”

Alan was thrilled to learn a few days later that the patient had survived his ordeal – a fact confirmed in a letter from an events coordinator at Herts Police saying that he had been nominated for a Royal Humane Society award as a result of successfully resuscitating a person.

The letter added: “I understand that not only did you stop and see if you could help, but you carried out CPR when he was found to have stopped breathing. I am pleased to tell you that, because of your actions, I understand that the gentleman is continuing to make a good recovery.

“As a consequence of your selfless public spirited actions we intend to nominate you together with the others for an award.”

Alan was later contacted by a member of the man’s family through Facebook, and has since met him, adding, “I have seen him, and it was quite emotional”.

He said that while it was ‘lovely’ to receive a certificate honouring his deeds from the Royal Humane Society, he was even more thrilled to “see the man walking around – that is what I’m proud of.

“He was emotional too, and his family thanked me for helping to save his life. They are a nice family.”