Much Hadham dad and daughter win Royal Humane Society recognition for saving life of woman in Bishop's Stortford
A 17-year-old girl used skills learned with Bishop's Stortford police cadets to help save the life of a woman who collapsed in Windhill and was effectively dead for 45 minutes.
Isabelle Murray had completed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training only weeks before she put her new knowledge into practice with dad Alec, 45, a builder who also knew how to carry out compressions through first aid training 10 years before.
He said: "You always think you'll never use it – it's surprising how it sticks in your mind."
Together with two other contractors who rushed to help the casualty – a woman in her 50s – they worked in relays to restart her breathing in a desperate life-and-death battle which lasted 45 minutes.
Alec said: "She was very blue in the face."
Isabelle had been helping her dad, the boss of Solution Property Services, work on a house in Windhill when they heard a commotion.
They went to investigate, grabbing his first aid kit, and found Ashley Dore and John Hall trying to help the woman. The pair, from Surrey, had been installing underfloor heating at the Church of St Joseph and the English Martyrs when she collapsed nearby.
They put her in the recovery position and the Murrays took the lead as the quartet began CPR. Proud dad Alec said: "Isabelle just kicked into gear."
He fetched a defibrillator from the church to shock the woman's heart and Isabelle, a Harlow College student hoping for a career in law enforcement, ran to the police station in Basbow Lane to summon more help.
Alec said: "Where the other builder was performing CPR, I hooked up the defibrillator and shocked her three times."
When a paramedic arrived to take charge, they continued their efforts in turn. Alec said: "It just seemed like it was going on forever.
"We were thinking 'this isn't looking good' – and then an air ambulance turned up." The helicopter emergency medical service team landed in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic School and took over.
Alec, who lives in Much Hadham with Isabelle and her 15-year-old sister Lily, said: "While it's happening you don't think of anything else. We were just trying to save someone's life."
Several days later, after the woman had been taken to hospital, they learned she had survived and was stable after heart surgery.
Then around three weeks later, as they continued their building project, the woman and her husband walked up the hill to say thank you.
Alec said: "It was just amazing. She was just so thankful and I said 'Seeing you standing here today is all the thanks we need'.
"We were just in the right place at the right time."
Despite their modesty, the father and daughter and the two builders who helped them have been awarded Royal Humane Society resuscitation certificates.
Its secretary, Andrew Chapman, said: "These people formed an instant life-saving team and did a fantastic job.
"The woman was effectively dead for three-quarters of an hour, but no one gave up and the result is that after all that time she was brought back from the brink and went on to recover.
"I'm sure that most people who learn how to administer CPR probably hope they're never called on to use it, but as this case shows, it can make the difference between life and death."