accessibility & help

First aider saves friend after heroin overdose

19 August 2010

A man uses a dummy to practice first aid during a course© InfoA homeless man living in a hostel was able to save his friend’s life following a heroin overdose, thanks to his specialised first aid training with the Red Cross.

Luke (26), an ex-trawler man who no longer uses drugs, was staying at the homeless hostel in Southend when the incident happened. One day, returning from a shopping trip, he noticed there was none of the usual loud music blaring out of his friend Ashley’s room.

He recalled: “I put my head in through his open window and saw Ashley had fallen off his bed in a funny position. I climbed in and realised he was blue and not breathing, so I started giving him CPR straight away. After about six or seven pushes Ashley started breathing again, so I put him in the recovery position and called an ambulance.”

Second chance

The incident brought back unwelcome memories for Luke. As he recalled: “I had to do the same thing to someone else years ago and that person died – this time I was determined not to fail. Looking back, I feel really good about what I did.”

Ashley is all too aware how close he came to losing his life. He said: “The day it happened, I cooked up my gear – and had a couple of beers and some diazepam too – then just sat on the bed. I don’t remember hitting the deck. If it wasn’t for Luke I wouldn’t be here today. Thanks to him, I’ve had a second chance and I’ve got to deal with that.”

Both Ashley and Luke learned first aid skills at a specially-tailored Red Cross course that provides support, advice and treatment for people with substance misuse issues. Ashley added: “I thought the first aid course was really useful. I’ve read the book from the course and now I keep my first aid kit on my cabinet in case something happens again.”

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