Today, Shetland Islander Jess Bradley was given a young heroes’ award by the British Red Cross.
And no wonder. Even a mere mention of the disturbing scene she had to deal with (helping a man with a deep gash in his neck) would be enough to make most people feel queasy.
But the trained first aider is surprisingly blasé about the whole incident. As she puts it: “I didn’t think it was anything remarkable – it was what I’d been trained to do, an instinct.”
The incident happened when Jess was walking home with a friend one evening. Suddenly, they heard a desperate shout for medical help coming from a flat window.
Telling her friend to call an ambulance, Jess dashed into the building to help – and will never forget the dreadful scene that greeted her.
She recalled: “There were two people in the flat – the person who’d called for help and a man with a severe injury to his neck. There was a lot of blood and he was in a bad way.
“I knew the first thing I had to do was stem the bleeding but I didn’t have a first aid kit with me.”
Stem the bleeding
Grabbing a blanket, Jess bundled it against the gash on the injured man’s neck, pressing hard to stop the bloodflow. At the same time, she tried to calm the other person in the room.
At one point, the man she was helping became agitated and struggled but Jess knew she had to persevere, doing the best she could until the ambulance arrived.
Jess added: “Fortunately, the ambulance arrived quickly and the paramedics took over. As they left for the hospital, one of them told me that if I hadn’t done what I did, the man would have bled to death.”
Determined to help
Following the incident, Jess was nominated for the British Red Cross’ Humanitarian Citizen Awards – which are kindly sponsored by Canon – and today was named overall winner.
The 22-year-old said: “Winning this award was great, but there’s nothing to beat the feeling of knowing you have saved a life, that you had the skills to make a difference.”
Jess originally learned first aid skills as an army cadet. Unfortunately, an illness meant she was unable to fulfil her dream of joining the army as a medic, but she was determined to use her skills for the benefit of others. She became a first aid volunteer two years ago.
Jess said: “I love volunteering with the Red Cross – it gives me a huge amount of satisfaction. Most of the time, I’m treating minor injuries like grazes on kid’s knees but it’s still making a difference. It’s still helping.”
Aged between 15 and 25? Join our Inspired Action volunteer programme and find an opportunity that perfectly matches your own interests.