If you ever fall seriously ill on a bus then you better hope Paul Cunningham is the driver or on board as a passenger.
Paul (53) has been driving for First Bus in the Falkirk area for the last 18 years and in that time he has saved three people’s lives – four if you count the time his CPR skills saved his son when he was just 18-months-old.
Paul’s most recent heroics were performed on February 15 when he was a passenger aboard the number one service as it approached Upper Newmarket Street, in Falkirk town centre.
He said: “The bus was full and I was standing at the wheelchair area when I heard a woman – she must have been in her 50s – saying she had pains in her heart.”
Paul, who had been in similar situations before, got his fellow bus driver David Anthony to stop the bus and get help while he cleared the vehicle of passengers.
By this time the woman had sunk to the floor of the bus and had become unresponsive, so, with the woman’s husband looking on, Paul started to carry out chest compressions and mouth to mouth.
“I thought, here we go – I tried four or five times and she still didn’t have a pulse.”
It might have looked like a lost cause, but Paul stuck at it and, just as bus driver David arrived with a defibrillator from nearby Asda, there were signs of life.
“She had a pulse and I told David, we don’t need the defibrillator.”
When the ambulance crew arrived the change in the woman’s condition was nothing short of remarkable.
Paul said: “She was talking by this time and she asked me what my name was.”
Already nominated for an internal award by First, Paul found out the woman, a nurse at Strathcarron Hospice, had been in contact with the bus company to send in a commendation for him.
“I just hope she’s doing well and making a full recovery,” said the modest hero, from Bridgend, near Linlithgow, who has been shortlisted for a Scottish Transport Award and will attend a special ceremony at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow in June.
So where did Paul learn his life saving skills? At a special workshop in a hospital? A training course at First Bus?
“I worked peeling chips at a Chinese takeaway when I was younger and the owner Mr Ling taught me two things – CPR and boxing. I also got basic first aid when I was in the army cadets.”