A senior healthcare assistant working at the Urgent Community Response Team (UCRT) in Thurrock has been awarded a Certificate of Merit by the Chief Constable at Essex Police for his role in saving a man’s life following a cardiac arrest outside a Grays cafe in August 2019.
Richard Gardner, who works for North East London NHS Foundation Trust and lived in Grays at the time, was off duty and having breakfast with his four year old daughter, Janet, at the Trumps Cafe when the incident occurred.
He said: “We just sat down to have breakfast at our local cafe when we saw an elderly gentleman outside just collapse.”
A number of people working at the cafe rushed to help the man but Richard realised he needed to step in and administer first aid. Richard added: “I went outside and the gentleman was purple in colour, he was agonal breathing and he was in cardiac arrest. I told the cafe staff to call 999 and immediately began performing CPR. I luckily received vital assistance from environment health workers from the council who helped to administer CPR until the ambulance service arrived and the patient was rushed to hospital.”
Essex Police awarded Richard a Certificate of Merit, which is an accolade for outstanding work or action, above and beyond the expected personal capabilities, for his quick-thinking and life-saving action. Richard, who has spent 16 years of his career as a health care assistant and has worked at NELFT since 2009, has never had to perform CPR before this incident. He said: “I’ve done manual handling and CPR training but that was the first time ever I’ve performed CPR on a person. When you’re put in that situation it all comes back to you.
“I won’t hesitate now if something like this happens. I know I can do it and if there is someone in crisis, you get there and assess the situation. This gentleman was in his last moments of life when he arrested and it’s really nice that I managed to save this his life.”
The staff at the cafe kept four year old Janet occupied inside the cafe while her father carried out lifesaving work outside.