Braintree: Lifesavers thanked for saving shopper’s life
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A man who collapsed while out shopping in Braintree has thanked the off-duty detective who helped to save his life.
Ian Howard and his wife Dawn celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary just days after he collapsed in Sainsbury’s on 15 June.
After spending a couple of days in hospital, Mr Howard is slowly recovering and has now met both his lifesavers – Detective Sergeant Gav Morris and Sainsbury’s shop worker Holly Heather – to thank them ‘from the bottom of my heart’.
He says it has brought ‘closure’ for everyone.
“I had pains in my chest, so I took my medication but as I walked towards Argos the pain got slowly worse. I knew I was in trouble and I asked one of the girls there to help me, it turned out to be Holly Heather. “She asked me to sit down. I don’t remember phoning my wife but Gavin says I did, so I must have. “Then I remember coming to on the floor and someone holding my hands, saying ‘I’ve got you, mate. Don’t worry, I’ve got you. You’re in safe hands’. And it turned out to be Gavin. “I am so grateful, from the bottom of my heart, that he was there to help me. “I found out later that without him and Holly, I would have died on that day. “They did a wonderful job. I really can’t praise them enough.”
Gav, who works in our Crime and Public Protection Command, was off duty and had popped into Sainsbury’s when a member of staff who knew he was a police officer asked if he could help with a customer who wasn’t feeling well.
“He didn’t look very well and wasn’t saying a lot. Staff had managed to get him on the phone to his wife and he spoke to her briefly but within five minutes he’d passed out. “I was talking to him, reassuring him and asking where the pain was. Then he began to lose consciousness although he was still breathing. “Holly, the Sainsbury’s first aider was already there, and we both got him on the floor. The other store worker had rung for an ambulance and then went to get a defibrillator in case we needed it. “Holly took the phone and we kept checking his breathing. I kept talking to him, reassuring him, asking him to squeeze my hand if he could hear me, which he did. “Then he stopped breathing. “The ambulance controller told Holly we had to start giving him CPR. She started the first round of compressions but it was easier for her to stay on the phone while I did the compressions. “Ian came round quickly and we started to reassure him again. But he stopped breathing again and I did more compressions and he came back round. That happened for a third time before the ambulance crew arrived and took over.“
Gav says it was a real team effort with Holly and her colleague and adds that he didn’t give a second thought to getting involved when he was asked by Sainsbury’s staff.
“I just thought at the time ‘I hope he gets to see his wife and I hope I get to meet him’. “We join the police to protect the public to preserve life and we do that whether we are on duty or not. We all sign up to that. “It was lovely to see Ian and his wife again and to know he’s going to see a specialist now. But it’s a very surreal feeling being thanked for something which, at the time, you just do because you are trained to do it. “I was constantly reassuring Ian and it worked because he says the only thing he remembers is me talking to him. I’m glad that he heard it and that’s why I did it. Our first aid training includes how to speak to people and what to say.”
Mr Howard, who lives in Sible Hedingham, also praised police officers generally for ‘what they go through in today’s society and how they help people’.
“People don’t realise how they help people and yet they go out of their way to save lives.”
He added that anyone who had first aid skills was ‘wonderful’.
“Holly had trained but had never put her first aid into practice like that before. And she did it on that day.“
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