WHEN faced with a life-or-death emergency, it takes a true hero to keep a cool head and step in to save someone.
Luckily, our Who Cares Wins 999 Hero finalists have that special quality that meant they were able to keep someone alive when they were minutes from death.
The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards, sponsored by the National Lottery, and in partnership with NHS Charities Together, honour those whose quick thinking and actions really made a difference.
Among the short list are a team who saved a mum’s life on a tube platform after she was run over by two trains, and a lollipop lady who dashed to help a driver who’d had a heart attack at the wheel.
There is also a paramedic who has saved hundreds of lives and delivered 50 babies during a glittering 34-year career.
The winner will be honoured at a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Davina McCall and screened on Channel 4 and All 4 on September 24.
HE has saved countless lives, delivered more than 50 babies and inspired dozens of young medics – but for paramedic Mark Giddens, it’s all in a day’s work.
Mark, from Baldock, Herts, has worked tirelessly for 34 years for the East of England Ambulance service, working his way through the ranks from call handler to advanced clinical practitioner – and colleagues say they would be lost without him.
When he’s not at work, Mark is dishing out medical advice on the school run, and neighbours know him as someone they can go to day or night with any medical worries.
Mark, 50, said: “All these years later I still love my job. I love helping people.
“We go into people’s lives often at the best time of their life, when they are having a baby, or the worst, when they might be seriously unwell, injured or dying.
“We can make a real difference.
“Even the way you speak to a patient can make a difference, or the way you smile. People remember that.
“It’s always great to deliver a baby – although none have been named after me, yet!”
He remembers being called to a breech birth (where the bay is bottom or feet first) and to resuscitate a man who had a heart attack at the wheel while his pregnant partner was in the passenger seat.
Mark said: “He was a young chap who went into cardiac arrest and crashed his car.
“It was very emotive as the partner, who was six months’ pregnant, was standing at the roadside watching us resuscitate him.
“I got a letter afterwards to say he survived, which was incredible news.
“I’ve been woken in the middle of the night by a worried neighbour whose baby had had a bump to the head and she wasn’t sure what to do.
“To me it’s a fantastic job and it’s one I love doing. The simplest things can make a difference.
“The people in the NHS, who are there day in and day out, make it work.”
Mark also volunteers for the NHS GoodSAM app, which means he could be called at a moment’s notice to help those in need of medical help in his own time.
He also does school talks to educate children about the ambulance service.
Mark lives with wife Kathryn, 33, who is also a paramedic and the couple have two children, Caitlyn,11, and Isabelle, four.
Mark said: “Isabelle has a paramedic outfit and doctor’s kit.
“Whenever she sees a child who is upset or feeling unwell, she will always go up to them and try to make them feel better.”
Tim Hickey, a paramedic who has worked with Mark, nominated him for our 999 Hero award along with Mark’s wife, Kathryn.
Tim said: “Mark is an asset to the ambulance service and during his service has amassed vast knowledge and experience in emergency medicine.
“On top of that he is an all round top bloke and is brilliant at teaching younger colleagues in order to improve the service provided to our patients.”
DR BENJAMIN MARRIAGE, CHRIS DOYLE AND KEVIN CUDDON
WHEN Sarah de Lagarde slipped getting off the tube and was dragged under the train, she thought she was going to die on the tracks.
The mum-of-two was hit by two trains – amputating her arm and leg – and lay bleeding out under the train for 15 minutes, calling for help.
Brave doctors and paramedics from the London Air Ambulance were able to pull her out and save her life on the platform, surrounded by commuters.
Sarah, 45, from Camden, north London, nominated Dr Benjamin Marriage and paramedics Chris Doyle and Kevin Cuddon from London’s Air Ambulance Charity, who saved her life.
Sarah, an asset manager, said: “These men are true heroes. I was told I nearly died ten times. I am so lucky they were there.”
She was on her way home from work when the accident happened in September 2022.
Sarah said: “I was really tired. I remember closing my eyes for a second but I must have fallen asleep.
“I woke up disoriented and jumped off the train, but it wasn’t my stop.
“I turned on my heel to try and board the train again but it was wet and I slipped.
“I fell against the carriage. I broke my nose and my front teeth. I fell down between the train and the platform and as the train departed, it crushed my limbs.
“I was on the tracks calling for help but a second train came in and crushed me again.”
Someone spotted Sarah and raised the alarm and a crew from London’s Air Ambulance Charity was called.
Paramedic Kevin helped rescue Sarah from under the train and the team applied tourniquets on both limbs.
Sarah said: “That is what saved me or I would have bled out for sure. All this happened on the train platform.
“I remember saying: ‘Do you mind hurrying up as I’m going to die right here’.
“Dr Marriage was holding my hand and said: ‘You can’t die right now, we have lots of people on the platform and they are all here to save you. Hold on a bit longer and we will get you out’.
“I remember his calming words as if it were yesterday.”
Sarah was taken by London Air Ambulance emergency response car to the Royal London Hospital. Surgeons later amputated both her right arm and leg.
Kevin, 42, said: “Sarah was trapped in a very awkward position so I crawled under the train to help the London Fire Brigade get her out.
“We had to carry her about 30 metres under the train and put her on a device to lift her up to the platform.
“Her right foot had been amputated at the ankle and her right arm was separated from the shoulder.
“She was really quiet, pale and had lost a lot of blood.”
Sarah, whose children are 12 and eight, made it home from hospital in time to spend Christmas with her family.
She recently became the first person in the world to operate a new £250,000 AI bionic arm that can read her mind, after her husband Jeremy launched a GoFundMe to help pay for it.
Sarah, who also has a prosthetic leg, said: “The fact that I am here and alive and able to watch my children grow up is amazing.
“I owe these three incredible men my life.”
WHEN off-duty lollipop lady Michelle D’Arcy went out for a quiet pub lunch with her husband, she didn’t think she would end up saving a life.
But when she heard a car had crashed outside the pub and the driver was unconscious, she sprang into action.
Michelle, who only had basic first aid training as part of her job as a school crossing patrol warden, immediately ran to help Kay Rush, 63, who had suffered a cardiac arrest at the wheel.
She gave Kay life-saving CPR inside Kay’s Seat Ibiza and restarted the flow of oxygen to her brain, saving her life.
She became the first in a chain of five people who performed CPR on Kay, including two police officers, meaning Kay has made a miraculous recovery.
Kay, who has nominated Michelle for the award, said: “If Michelle hadn’t been there that day, I definitely wouldn’t be here now, my brain would have been without oxygen for too long.
“I owe my life to her. I was driving to visit my mum, who is 92, so if I’d had the cardiac arrest five minutes later, she wouldn’t have been able to save me.
“It was fate that Michelle was there. She’s my guardian angel!”
Michelle, who works as a school crossing patrol at Lodge Farm Primary School, Stevenage, said: “I didn’t ever think I’d have to use my first aid training, but I couldn’t sit back and do nothing.
“Kay and I are friends for life now. I have always struggled with depression and a sense of purpose in life.
“Now I think that saving Kay is my purpose. She is so loved by her family, I feel so proud that I was able to keep them together.”
Michelle had been having lunch with her husband in the Mutual Friend pub in Stevenage, Herts, when Kay’s car crashed into parked cars outside.
Michelle said: “A barmaid went to see what had happened and came running back in shouting: ‘Can anyone do first aid?
“Nobody said anything, so I stood up. My husband said, ‘You can’t go, you’ve had a drink!’, but I said: ‘Nobody else is going!’ and I kicked off my sliders and ran.
“I think a couple of sips of beer gave me the Dutch courage I needed to help!
“I actually thought Kay had already died when I got to her, she was grey.
“But I remembered the first aid course I did, and they said to continue to give CPR even if you think the patient has already passed, so I jumped into the passenger seat where I could get my weight behind me and started chest compressions.
“Suddenly she took a breath and I thought: ‘It’s working!”
When paramedics arrived to take over the CPR, Michelle’s husband had to help her, shaking, out of the vehicle.
She says: “He bought me a double rum, I couldn’t believe what had happened.
“I’m just so grateful Kay is still with us and I was able to help.”