Gatwick Airport Staff Save Man’s Life

A team of dedicated London Gatwick staff were thanked by a passenger for saving his life after he went into cardiac arrest at the airport.

Passenger Eddie Barnes was travelling through London Gatwick’s North Terminal security area on 24 October at 4.20am bound for Spain when he suddenly went into a cardiac arrest. A total of 12 staff from security, passenger operations and the London Gatwick Fire Service immediately responded and gave life-saving CPR.

Between them they gave Eddie CPR for more than 15 minutes and used a defibrillator to restart his heart before he was taken to hospital via ambulance.

All passenger operations staff at London Gatwick are provided with first aid at work training, including CPR. Firefighters from London Gatwick’s on-site fire service are trained as advanced immediate emergency care responders and are able to provide a higher level of medical care.

Thankfully, Eddie has since made a full recovery and recently met with the staff who responded to the incident to say thank you. Eddie was taken to the airport’s airside fire station where he received a tour of the facilities and had a chance to catch up with those involved.

Passenger Eddie Barnes said: “The cardiac arrest that I suffered must be the most profound experience for myself and those close to me and yet had the team at London Gatwick not successfully applied CPR, I would never have known a thing about it.

“I had absolutely no warning when it happened, I simply dropped dead. I am told that for more than 15 minutes CPR was applied in the course of which I received 16 broken ribs and the paddles were applied five times (and once more in the ambulance).

“The heart surgeon informed me the number of ribs broken bears testimony to how well the CPR was applied. It is hard work applying CPR and I will be eternally grateful to the team for not giving up. Strangely the experience has not left me with any psychological hang-ups. By the time I knew what had happened it was too late to worry and I have every confidence that the team at St Thomas’s who supported me after I left Gatwick have dealt with the problem to prevent a recurrence.”

London Gatwick’s Passenger Operations Support was called to 2,832 first aid calls last year, ranging from cardiac arrests to managing queues.

Scott Ronaldson and Przemyslaw Karpicki were some of the first colleagues to respond to the incident that morning.

Scott Ronaldson, Passenger Operations, London Gatwick, said: “At the time Przemyslaw and I were close to finishing a night shift and were doing our usual lap to make sure everything was running smooth. It was when we were talking to security we noticed screens being pulled across.

“When we got to Eddie we noticed he wasn’t breathing. I tore his shirt off and commenced CPR with my colleague Przemyslaw until the rest of our team came with a defibrillator. 

“I have had a few instances where CPR is required and every time, I know I can rely on our amazing team to drop everything and come running to support. Thanks to the training we receive from the London Gatwick Fire Service we are well prepared for these circumstances and feel comfortable even in the worst cases.”

Przemyslaw Karpicki, Passenger Operations Support, London Gatwick, said: “Just as our night shift was ending, I was with Scott when we saw a passenger collapse. We didn’t hesitate, we ran straight to him. Security called us to respond, but by then, we were already there, ready to help.

“Scott started CPR immediately since Eddie wasn’t breathing. Moments later two more of our colleagues, joined us with a defibrillator to the scene. Our training from the London Gatwick Fire Service kicked in, and they arrived shortly after to provide the next level of care. I knew I was surrounded by my colleagues from the passenger operations team and could rely on them completely.

“At that moment, during CPR, I wasn’t thinking about my feelings, I was focused entirely on helping Eddie. But when I got home at the end of my shift, the reality hit me. Together with my colleagues, we did something incredible. We gave someone a chance to live, and that feels incredibly special.”

*Pictured: (L-R) Przemyslaw Karpicki, Holly-May Parrish (passenger operations), Eddie Barnes and Scott Ronaldson