The Quick-Thinking Constable

Two police officers pose with an AED.

When Constable John Price walked into work on Monday 24 October 2016, he had no idea what to expect from his shift. The experienced officer was no stranger to trauma, danger, and dramatic situations - but he never expected to step into the role of lifesaver and deliver the medical interventions that saved a woman’s life when she had a sudden cardiac arrest outside St Helens Police Station, Merseyside.  

John was at his locker preparing for his shift when a call came over his radio that someone had been taken ill at the front of the station. He quickly made his way there to see if he could help. 

He ran outside to find a car parked diagonally in front of the barrier to the station and a crowd of people had already gathered around the front of the car. A woman was lying on the ground - and John quickly established that she was in trouble. 

“I noticed she was incredibly pale,” says John, “and had lost colour to her lips. I looked and listened for breathing and realised that she was not breathing.” 

At this point, John knew he needed to take immediate action to save this woman’s life - and set the chain of survival into motion. He rolled her flat on the pavement and asked enquiry officer Fiona Shorthouse to get the automated external defibrillator (AED) that St Helens kept at the front desk. He immediately started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and ensured that the police station control room were contacting paramedics.

Chain of survival logo.

John continued with around two or three sets of rescue breaths and compressions, at which point Fiona arrived with the AED. Soon, a rapid response vehicle arrived with a second AED. The machine was deployed, and they were able to shock the patient. John continued to administer compressions and, once an ambulance arrived, John helped the paramedics get the woman into the ambulance where they continued working on her. She was taken to the nearby Whiston Hospital Emergency Department. John then arranged for her husband to be taken to the emergency department to meet her. 

Thanks to John’s quick actions, the woman survived. She remained unconscious for a number of days but ultimately made a full recovery, without any neurological impairment and was later fitted with an Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). She is very fortunate that the incident occurred near someone who knew what to do in an emergency, and a location with an AED available.  

It could have been so different for her. When the incident occurred in 2016, the police station was probably one of only a handful of places in the area where an AED was available - and John knows that this made a huge amount of difference to her survival.  

“Immediately afterwards, I felt relieved that the she was so close to the station,” said John.  

“Despite how desperate the situation was, her husband was able to think to come to the police station for help. I see a lot of trauma and injury and it is always very rewarding to be able to make such a positive impact.” 

John knows that the bystander CPR he provided helped to save her life and is keen to encourage people to take action to learn what to do in an emergency situation. 

“Early bystander CPR is absolutely essential in being able to save someone suddenly taken ill, and I would encourage anyone who feels able to seek training in first aid and CPR.”

If anyone else finds themselves in the same situation, my advice would be to stay as calm as you can. Enlist the help of those around you to call 999, seek an AED, and ensure access for emergency services.”
Constable John Price

Feeling inspired? Here’s how you can become a lifesaver: 

Lifesaver: Learn what to do in an emergency with our award-winning interactive game. 

Restart a Heart: Every October, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK become CPR-ready as part of Restart a Heart. Will you join us this year?