Handcross school staff praised for saving 70-year-old milkman from Felpham who was found not breathing

Staff at Handcross Park School, Handcross, turned life-savers after their 70-year-old milkman was found slumped and not breathing against the kitchen delivery door.

Now they have been praised for bringing Oliver Buckman of, Findon Drive, Felpham, Bognor Regis, back from the brink of death. But for their swift action there is little doubt that Mr Buckman would have died.

Oliver Buckman with his family and staff at Handcross Park School

Oliver Buckman with his family and staff at Handcross Park School

The horror incident happened on the morning of September 24, last year. Mr Buckman was on his early morning rounds when he collapsed.

He was found by the school chef who called for help. School staff members, Anthony Falkus, John Nickel, Vanessa Davis and Fiona Thompson rushed to the scene.

Mr Balkus and Mr Nickel immediately began administering cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while Ms Davis and Ms Thompson fetched a defibrillator.

They kept the CPR up and Mr Buckman was also shocked four times with the defibrillator, and twice more when paramedics arrived.

This was a touch and go situation. Mr Buckman is lucky the school staff were there and able to react immediately.

Andrew Chapman, secretary of the society

He was then airlifted to hospital, underwent surgery and was put into an induced coma for four days but went on to make what has been described as a ‘remarkable recovery’.

Now, following a recommendation from his son, Ian Buckman, the four life savers have all been awarded Royal Humane Society Resuscitation Certificates.

They have also won the personal praise of Andrew Chapman, secretary of the society. As he announced the awards at the society’s London headquarters he said: “This was a touch and go situation. Mr Buckman is lucky the school staff were there and able to react immediately.

“The sooner CPR is stated the higher the chances are of it being successful. In this case Mr Buckman’s son has praised them for what they did as well. They richly deserve the awards they are to receive.

“At the same time this is another case which emphasises the need for as many people as possible to learn how to administer CPR.

“I’m sure no-one who learns the procedure ever wants to be called on to use it, but as this incident shows, it can, as it did here make the difference between life and death.”

In his recommendation to the society Ian Buckman of Nursery Gardens, Littlehampton, said: “For the first two days we were being told it was touch and go and he was kept in an induced coma for four days.

“However, once he came round he has made a remarkable recovery. The cardiologists, cardiac nurses and ITU team have all said that if it were not for the quick actions of the staff members I have nominated Dad would not have survived.”

The roots of the Royal Humane Society stretch back more than two centuries. The Queen is its patron and its president is Princess Alexandra. It is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life.

It was founded in 1774 by two of the day’s eminent medical men, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan. Their primary motive was to promote techniques of resuscitation.

However, as it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, the awards scheme evolved, and today a variety of awards are made depending on the bravery involved.

The society also awards non health care professionals who perform a successful resuscitation. Since it was set up the society has considered over 87,000 cases and made over 200,000 awards.

The society is a registered charity which receives no public funding and is dependent on voluntary donations.

It was one of a select number of organisations to receive a donation from the patron’s fund which was set up to acknowledge work done by organisations of which the Queen is the patron, to mark her 90th birthday.