Belfast Telegraph

Family trace modest hero who helped save man's life after horror crash

By Angela Rainey

A man has been branded a hero after his quick-thinking actions saved the life of a seriously injured motorist.

Brian Allen (43) had been travelling home from his job in Dublin to Belfast via the A1 when he spotted a bad road traffic accident.

Motorist Bobby Purdy was driving towards the Hillsborough Roundabout when his van overturned and veered into trees.

Although wearing a seatbelt he sustained horrendous injuries including a broken neck, a severed artery and a bleed on the brain.

But thanks to the actions of Mr Allen, who completed a seven-month first aid course through St John's Ambulance in March, he survived.

Following the incident, Mr Purdy's daughter Tara appealed through Facebook to trace those who helped save her father.

Over 2,000 people shared the appeal to find the 'good Samaritans' so Tara and her mother Carolyn could personally thank them.

Mr Allen, from Carryduff, who is partner to Lisa Glennon and father to Daniel (6) and Evie (2), said on seeing the carnage his training kicked in straight away.

He said: "I was approaching the Hillsborough Roundabout and there were a lot of cars flashing their lights and a lot of traffic which had stopped on the carriageway. I could see beyond the roadworks that there had been an accident and my training just kicked in.

"I put on my luminous ambulance jacket and protective gear, lifted my first aid kit out and started walking up the hard shoulder. I could see the van and two motorcyclist helmets and my first thoughts were 'Good God, this is bad'."

Luckily two anonymous bikers, who the Purdy family would also like to thank, had stopped to help, removing Bobby from the van due to concerns that it was leaking petrol.

"I could see the driver was in a bad way, he had been in a serious accident and it was clear he had a number of injuries," added Mr Allen.

"I just wanted to help, to reassure him by talking to him and telling him who I was, keeping him calm and immobile and to stop the bleeding from his head."

Mr Allen waited with Mr Purdy for around 30 minutes and also assisted a paramedic, until an air ambulance crew arrived to take over.

He said that he had initially signed up for the seven-month course after spotting an increasing number of public defibrillators and being curious about how to use one.

He said the free training was very worthwhile but remains modest about his life-saving actions.

"It was afterwards that I realised the gravity of the situation, then I read Tara's appeal on Facebook looking for those who stopped to help her dad," he added.

"I was very happy to hear from her that he was alive.

"We exchanged messages, but there was no need to thank me.

"I was just glad I had been well-trained and could do something, just being of help was my main motivation.

"I was in the right place at the right time."

And it's not the first time Mr Allen has saved a life.

He saved his 76-year-old father Frank 10 years ago after spotting the signs of a stroke occurring as the pair were speaking on the phone.

His immediate actions ensured his father made a swift recovery.

He has also performed first aid in four other car accidents on the A1 in the last nine months and was on duty at the Belfast Marathon only days after saving Mr Purdy.

Mr Allen adds that learning first aid is a skill that the general public should be taught.

"When you think about the things you learn at school, first aid is not one of them," he said.

"But everyone should learn basic life-saving skills because you just never know when you might need them."

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