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Off duty paramedic Jon Haigh leaps into action to save dying man in Canterbury

A young man who suffered a suspected heroin overdose in the high street owes his life to a quick-thinking paramedic who happened to be sat nearby.

Jon Haigh was off-duty in Canterbury city centre when he heard the victim’s breathing lapse into a “death rattle”.

He and his friend, also a trained medic, sprang into action and performed life-saving CPR as they waited for ambulance crews to arrive.

Jonathan Haigh
Jonathan Haigh

Mr Haigh spoke to KentOnline's sister paper the Kentish Gazette to thank good Samaritans who rushed over to help – one even collecting a defibrillator from a nearby shop.

He said: “We assumed he was simply asleep on the bench next to us. But we noticed deep sighing, irregular breathing.

“He was apnoeic, which is to say he was unable to breath. We call the sound a death rattle”

“He was apnoeic, which is to say he was unable to breath. We call the sound a death rattle.”

The drama unfolded in the memorial garden outside Nason’s department store.

Mr Haigh, a 23-year-old paramedic based in Ashford, was on a day off in the city and had decided to take a seat in the park with his pal, an emergency care support worker.

Both men quickly tended to the victim, aged in his mid-twenties, performing manual chest compressions.

As they battled to keep him alive, members of the public rushed to their aid.

Mr Haigh said: “We were really grateful for those who stepped in to help.

“I’d particularly like to thank an Australian lady, who was a trained first aider. She helped with airway management while we waited for the ambulance.”

Crews arrived within minutes and the victim, who had drugs paraphernalia including a syringe lying nearby, was transferred to their care.

Mr Haigh, who lives in Stelling Minnis, said: “He was given naloxone hydrochloride, which can be used in overdose cases. He was also given sugars.

“He was on his feet and able to climb into the ambulance. He’s lucky to be alive.”

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