Essex ambulance staff member to be commended after saving two-year-old’s life on holiday

Mid-Essex Emergency Care Assistant Neil Williamson and two-year-old Jada.

Mid-Essex Emergency Care Assistant Neil Williamson and two-year-old Jada. - Credit: Archant

Imagine relaxing in the beautiful sunshine of Spain on holiday when suddenly someone appears from the pool with the lifeless body of a child.

For mid-Essex Emergency Care Assistant Neil Williamson, this nightmare was all too true this summer when it happened at the hotel he was staying in.

Talking about the traumatic event in August - when a child had fallen into the hotel’s ‘lazy river’ and started to drown - Mr Williamson confessed he didn’t even have time to process what was unfolding: “In that situation I just went into autopilot, I didn’t have time to think.”

Without hesitation, Mr Williamson put his life-saving skills to work, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the two-year-old girl.

As other holiday makers gathered from the Protur Roquetas Hotel and Spa in Costa de Almeria, the child’s parents, searching for their daughter, rushed round to discover Mr Williamson performing CPR on their daughter.

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“As you can imagine, her mum was hysterical and her dad passed out,” said Mr Williamson.

Despite what was going on around him, he remained unperturbed but admits the worst crossed his mind: “After a minute or so, I did start to think that it might not be working.”

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However, after two minutes of CPR, the little girl began to cough up water. Mr Williamson knew though that there was still a long road ahead as sign of life was still not guaranteed.

To everyone’s relief, Mr Williamson detected a pulse after another minute of CPR. But it wasn’t until bystander Surgeon Captain Mike Howell, who is medical officer in charge of the Institute of Naval Medicine of the Royal Navy, began to assist did Mr Williamson start to realise what he had done.

“It was the longest couple of minutes and without a doubt the most scared I’ve ever been in my life,” Mr Williamson said. “The feeling after was almost indescribable, but the best feeling in the world.”

Mr Williamson remains extremely modest about his actions but Surgeon Captain Howell spoke otherwise: “I have no doubt that the child would have died had it not been for the actions of Neil. He made a rapid assessment of the situation and took charge; I had little to do other than to maintain her airway and supervise her recovery.”

After the little girl was taken to hospital by an ambulance crew, Mr Williamson was able to meet her again under much happier circumstances.

After only being in the East of England Ambulance Service Trust for 18 months, Mr Williamson said: “It’s usually the paramedics who do it when we attend incidents, I’ve only assisted and dealt with four cardiac arrests on duty and that was the first time I’ve ever performed paediatric CPR outside the classroom.”

Mr Williamson will be receiving a Chief Officer Commendation from Chief Executive Robert Morton for his actions, and praise has also come from Essex Locality Director, Rob Ashford: “I am so proud of Neil for his actions. The positive impact he has had on this child’s life and her family is beyond words. Neil is a credit to Essex and the trust and is deserving of praise and recognition.”

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