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The Corporation

Posted: 15/06/18

“Hero” student Melanie helps save man’s life

A public services student at West Nottinghamshire College has been hailed as a “hero” after helping save the life of a man who collapsed with a suspected heart attack.

  • “Hero” Melanie in her cadet uniform.
  • Life-saver Melanie, pictured at the college’s Derby Road campus.

Melanie Jeszke, 17, was walking through Mansfield town centre on the afternoon of Saturday 9 June when she saw the pensioner fall to the ground on Leeming Street.

Her natural instinct to help others kicked-in and she immediately called 999 and rushed to his aid.

After describing the man’s condition to the emergency call-handler, Melanie handed her mobile phone to a bystander who continued talking to the operative while she began taking turns with a fellow passer-by called Ben in administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Meanwhile, a postman who had also stopped to help performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the man, who is believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest.

Melanie explained: “I was walking home after saying goodbye to my best friend when a saw a man fall face down onto the ground, so I dialled 999 straight away and then ran up to him. There was a group of people around him, and his family members were panicking and didn’t know what to do.

“I was on the phone to the emergency services, who asked if the gentleman was breathing and I said ‘no.’

“I then passed my phone on to somebody else and Ben and I took turns to do CPR and then the man started to breathe again, so we put him in the recovery position. I also checked the man’s head wounds, because his injury was really nasty and he was bleeding heavily from his head and face.

“We could hear the sirens of the emergency services coming – but then he stopped breathing again.”

Melanie continued with the technique – which involves pressing down on a casualty’s chest to give them a series of ‘rescue’ breaths – until the ambulance arrived, quickly followed by the police.

Once the paramedics had taken over, Melanie turned her attentions to comforting the man’s family members who were with him and “reassuring them that he was breathing, was still fighting and he was going to make it.”

She also took their contact details so she could find out how the man was doing, once he had been taken to hospital, where he is now recovering.

The teenager learned to perform CPR in the Army Cadets, where she became a qualified first-aider.

Melanie was a member of Nottinghamshire Army Cadet Force (ACF) between the ages of 12 and 16, part of the C-Battery detachment which meets each Monday at the ACF Centre in Botany Avenue, Mansfield.

She plans to return to the cadets when she turns 18 this month, and become an adult instructor in the B-Company detachment, based in Clipstone, so she can pass on her life-saving skills to others.

Melanie said she had been overwhelmed by the “amazing” public reaction to her quick-thinking actions after her mum, Melissa, posted it on social media for her friends and family to read about.

However, it quickly went viral and has attracted a phenomenal 19.5k likes, 4.5k comments and 8.9k shares, which continues to grow daily.

“The response has been amazing,” she said. “I’ve been getting messages from people all over the world saying things such as ‘you’re a life-saver’, ‘you’re a hero’, and ‘thanks to you somebody can actually see their dad and grandad on Father’s Day’.

“My family and friends are really proud of me, everyone on the college bus that I catch have all been talking about it, and people on my course have been really supportive.

“People have asked me how I did it but it’s just instinct I guess. I’ve been in situations where I’ve helped people who’ve had panic attacks in town or broken their arm in the Army Cadets, but I never thought I’d actually have the courage to step in and help save someone’s life.”

On the back of the social media attention, Melanie has been contacted by various organisations asking to nominate her for bravery awards and commendations including the Youth Heroes Awards, the Royal Humane Society Resuscitation Certificate and St John Ambulance Everyday Heroes Awards.

She now hopes her story inspires others to learn CPR and life-saving techniques, which has influenced her decision to re-join the cadets.

“I want other people to have the confidence to jump in and help save lives, like I and the other two passers-by have done,” she insisted. “That’s why I also want to return to the cadets as an adult instructor so I can tell the cadets ‘don’t be scared – you too can help other people.’”

In a further twist, the incident has prompted Melanie to set her sights on becoming a police officer after she was left devastated at missing out on a dream career in the Armed Forces.

Melanie – who is about to complete her studies in the Level 2 Diploma for Entry to the Uniformed Services, which has seen her achieve merit and distinction grades in some modules – had long aspired to join the Army as a dog-handler but was turned down on medical grounds due to a condition that sometimes affects mobility in her left leg.

She is set to begin working as a care assistant at a Sutton-in-Ashfield care home upon leaving college next month, having previously gained a Diploma in the Introduction to Health, Social Care and Children’s and Young People’s Settings.

But Melanie’s real passion lies in the unformed public services, and after speaking to the police officer that attended the incident, she’s decided to apply to join as a trainee next year.

“The police officer asked me if I was interested in joining the force. I hadn’t really considered this before but once he explained everything and said there is an alternative to the Army, I thought ‘I’ll give it a shot,’” she said.

“I’m really excited about what the future holds.”

Public services tutor James Winning said: “I was very proud to hear about what Melanie had done, although not at all surprised. She’s a conscientious student and it’s in her character to help people in need.

“The public services recruit people based on life experience, and also their personal skills and attributes, and Melanie is happy to put herself forward in situations that are outside of her comfort zone and ones which can be quite stressful.

“A role in the public services would suit her character perfectly and she would be an asset to whichever service she decides to pursue a career in.”

Praising Melanie’s actions, Mansfield MP Ben Bradley said: “I’m sure everyone at Nottinghamshire ACF are all incredibly proud of her. She is a credit to Mansfield.”

Richard Etherington, of Nottinghamshire ACF, said: “Amongst other things cadets gain recognised St John’s Ambulance qualifications to prepare them for situations like this. The gentleman was lucky that he took ill near an army cadet. We wish him well.”