A Co Down man has been awarded one of the UK’s most prestigious honours after saving a work colleague’s life.
Paul Whitcombe, from Portaferry, is the recipient of a Royal Humane Society Resuscitation Certificate for administering cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The emergency took place at Mr Whitcombe’s workplace in Falcon Way in south Belfast on May 27.
The male colleague collapsed and stopped breathing, and Paul was called immediately to help assist him as other colleagues put the man in the recovery position.
Paul then contacted emergency services, and began administering CPR as no pulse had been detected.
Although he had no mouth protection, he subsequently gave the man mouth to mouth.
A defibrillator was brought to the scene and Paul swiftly deployed the device, shocking his work colleague.
Following the device’s instructions, the Portaferry resident continued with CPR until an ambulance arrived.
The man was rushed to hospital where he underwent major surgery and then fortunately went on to survive. Andrew Chapman, secretary of the Royal Humane Society, praised Paul’s actions, heralding him as a life-saver.
“Paul stayed calm and did an amazing job. He was undoubtedly responsible for saving his colleague’s life,” he explained.
“He was the right person in the right place at the right time, knew exactly what to do and carried out the treatment professionally. He richly deserves the award he is to receive. He saved his colleagues life.”
Mr Chapman continued: “This is yet another of many cases we see which emphasises the need for as many people as possible, not just members of the emergency services, to learn the CPR technique.
“I’m sure everyone who learns it probably hopes they will never be called on to use it but as this case graphically shows it can, as it did here, make the difference between life and death.”
The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. The Queen is its patron and its president is Princess Alexandra.
It is a national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.
It was founded in 1774 by two of the day’s eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan. Their primary motive was to promote techniques of resuscitation after they became aware of the number of people being wrongly taken for dead —and in some cases, buried alive.
Both men wanted to promote the new but controversial medical technique at that time of resuscitation and offered money to anyone rescuing someone from the brink of death.
As it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, however, the awards scheme evolved from its 18th century origins, and today a variety of awards are made depending on the bravery involved.
The society also awards non-health care professionals who perform a successful resuscitation.
Since it was set up the Society has considered over 87,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards in the UK and abroad.
The organisation is a registered charity which receives no public funding and is dependent on voluntary donations.
It was one of a select number of organisations to receive a donation from the Patron’s fund which was set up to acknowledge work done by organisations of which the Queen is the patron, to mark Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.