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Firefighters saved life of choking man after skip fire

Rescue team stresses the value of first aid training after commendation awards

21 March, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Firefighters David Currie and Daniel White at Kentish Town fire station with the letter of commendation

ONE of the Kentish Town firefighters who helped save the life of a choking man last year has emphasised the importance of first aid training for as many people as possible.

Ed Garcia, then temporary crew manager, was responding to a skip fire in Highgate last July when a woman came running over, calling for help as her husband could not breathe.

With three other firefighters, they undertook life-saving actions. Mr Garcia and firefighter Daniel White performed the Heimlich manoeuvre and back slaps to help dislodge the food in his throat, while their colleagues, firefighters Clint Riley and David Currie, called for an ambulance, brought over first aid equipment and extinguished the fire. On first aid training,

Mr Garcia, now a crew manager at Euston fire station, said: “It’s very important, I’m a great advocate of this sort of stuff being taught in schools and training a wide range of people as it’s absolutely vital. “It’s not every day you come across anything like that but it is handy to know it could make a difference to someone’s life.”

The man, who suffers from motor neurone disease, had turned purple in colour and was struggling to breathe when firefighters came to his rescue.

Firefighters are trained every three years in first aid, with a refresher every year. Mr White, a firefighter at Kentish Town for 13 years, had his most recent first aid update just weeks before the incident.

He said modestly: “It was like every other day. It’s just what we do really, it’s a nice feeling. We do fires and we do people trapped under trains, in canals.”

Mr Garcia added: “It’s stuff we run into quite often at the brigade and if we see someone collapsed on the street and because we have those basic skills we can help. My colleague firefighter Riley called for the urgent attendance of LAS while we were treating the gentleman in question. “I honestly think, as he was already in a bad way when I got in, he probably wouldn’t have made it. It’s not me trying to make myself out to be a big hero but honestly if the crew wasn’t there then it could’ve been a different story.”

The man was taken to hospital and the firefighters have been told he made a full recovery.

As a result of their actions, they were put forward for a commendation from Camden’s fire borough commander Simon Tuhill. In his letter of congratulations, he said: “You are to be commended for your actions at this incident. Your high standard and professionalism are a credit to the London Fire Brigade and I thank you for this.”

It is not the first time Mr White has been recognised for his work – he received another commendation when he faced a man armed with a knife threatening a colleague during a fire last year.

“It’s nice to have one or two [commendations] to put on your wall,” he said. “I’m just happy to help people.”

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