GMP officer commended as quick actions save elderly man’s life

A police officer from Buxton has received a special commendation from Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable for her part in saving a man’s life while off duty.

PC Kate Barlow, 44, had just finished her shift at the City of Manchester division and was on her way home on a busy rush-hour train from Manchester Oxford Road.

Shortly after the train left the station, Kate became aware of an elderly gentleman snoring loudly in the seat behind her, much to the amusement of some fellow passengers.

But, as the train pulled in to Piccadilly Station, the snoring noises suddenly changed.

Recognising the sounds as a sign of something potentially more sinister, Kate attempted to wake the man, whose face had now turned ashen grey, with no success.

Without warning, the man stopped breathing and Kate immediately shouted for an ambulance to be called as four members of the public came to help – three were trained nurses and the other a former member of the British Transport Police.

The group laid the man down across the seating. Kate, who is trained in first aid, quickly undid his tie and top shirt buttons and began to perform CPR to no avail.

As the train was still at Piccadilly Station, Kate shouted out for a member of the station staff to bring a heart defibrillator, which was brought swiftly to the carriage.

Assisted by the three nurses and the former BTP Officer, Kate fitted the defibrillator before applying a single shock to the man. Immediately the man gained consciousness with a sharp intake of breath.

After composing himself, the gentleman stated he wished to return home. Luckily, paramedics shortly arrived to take the man to the Manchester Royal Infirmary for observation.

The following day, PC Barlow went to visit the gentleman, who was identified as Michael Hall, 74, from Ashford-in-the-Water, Derbyshire.

Nursing staff later advised Kate that Michael would need extensive heart surgery and, without her quick intervention, Michael would have certainly died.

Commenting on what happened that day, PC Barlow said: “Having learnt first aid, in and out of a work capacity, I was thankfully able to recognise that Michael’s breathing had taken a turn for the worse.

“I’m very thankful and lucky that the people who came to help me were trained nurses and a former BTP Officer, who all remained calm and in control throughout.

“It was extremely fortunate that the incident hadn’t occurred a few minutes later, when the train would have had left the station and we wouldn’t have had access to the heart defibrillator which ultimately saved Michael’s life.

“It just goes to show the importance of having easy access to these defibrillators and it’s also reassuring that members of the public are willing to use them.”

On receiving her award, Kate said: “I’m very honoured to receive the commendation but I’m sure anyone in my situation would have done the same thing. I just happened to be the nearest person to Michael when he needed help.

“And once again, I’m very grateful to the members of the public who came to help me that day.”

Kate received her Chief Constable Commendation at a ceremony at Hough End. The award was presented by Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling, on behalf of Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

DCC Pilling said: “Kate’s actions should be highly applauded. By raising the alarm early, and with assistance from the public, Kate played a major role in saving a man’s life.

“This incident not only shows the importance of first aid courses, but also highlights the willingness of people in our communities to come to the aid of those in need.”