999 call records dog walker reviving 'dead' man he mistook for art installation

'I’m hoping it’s someone’s pretend fake art or something,' Richard Gaman told emergency operator

Monday 26 November 2018 00:22
999 call records moment Richard Gaman performs chest compressions to save a life

A 999 call has recorded a man discovering a dead body he thought could be modern “art” – before bringing the man back to life.

Richard Gaman, 46, discovered the apparently lifeless body while walking his dog and initially thought it was a bizarre exhibit.

He called 999 and told an operator: “I’m hoping it’s someone’s pretend fake art or something.”

But after speaking to call handler Sarah Fisher, Mr Gaman was persuaded to try and resuscitate the body.

She talked him through the timing of the chest compression, counting “one, two, three, four” – and Mr Gaman brought the man back from the brink of death.

Mr Gaman was soon surrounded by a team of emergency responders who treated the man, who spluttered back to life.

Richard Gaman was persuaded to try to resuscitate the body by Sarah Fischer

Mr Gaman discovered the lifeless body beside the Severn Estuary in January, after the man tried to take his own life.

The man’s heart had stopped beating, he was not breathing, and he was extremely cold.

Mr Gaman said: “He was lying on his back with his arms folded like he was trying to keep warm.

“Initially I thought he was a mannequin, but then I realised he was a real person.

”It felt like a lifetime. But seeing him in hospital alive afterwards made it all worthwhile.

“I didn’t think there was anything that could be done for him. But once I’d started CPR, I was determined to keep going.”

Ms Fisher encouraged and supported Mr Gaman to do CPR for more than 20 minutes, providing a crucial step in the chain of survival as crews travelled to the scene.

“Richard was convinced the young man was dead and beyond any help. But I really wanted to get him to do something for the person,” Ms Fisher said.

Responders from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust treated the man and were helped by Avon and Somerset Police, Avon Fire and Rescue Service, and a Portishead Coastguard Search and Rescue Team.

Matt Morris, operations manager from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The CPR from the bystander kept [the man] alive until we arrived to provide advanced life support.

“CPR is an essential skill that everyone should learn.”

Despite having an exceptionally low chance of survival, he has gone on to make an astonishing recovery.

The man who was rescued – who wanted to remain anonymous – said in a statement released by the ambulance service: “Thank you to everyone.

“It was almost certain that I was going to die, but I’m so grateful to have survived.”

The man’s mother said: “When the police knocked on the door, I assumed the worst. But so many people did exactly the right thing to help him to survive.

“It is a miracle. He just wasn’t meant to die on that day.”

Read the transcript of the phone call

Mr Gaman: “I just walking along the seawall and there’s a body against the seawall with his arms folded like he’s trying to keep warm.”

Ms Fisher: “You say it’s a body?”

Mr Gaman: “Yes a whole body.”

Ms Fisher: “Is the patient breathing at all?”

Mr Gaman: “No, I’ve touched it felt stiff. I’m hoping its someones pretend fake art or something, I’ve never seen a dead body before but it looks real enough to me.”

Ms Fisher: “Can you go over to him now.”

Mr Gaman: “It looks stiff, to be honest with you, his eyes are half open and everything. It looked quite young, I’ve never had to deal with a dead body before.”

Ms Fisher: “Are you happy to go over and touch the body to see if the patient is breathing.”

Mr Gaman: “His stomachs not going up or down or anything.”

Ms Fisher: “Do they feel cold?”

Mr Gaman: “Yeah he felt cold.”

Ms Fisher: “If you shout out to them, do they respond at all?”

Mr Gaman: “No not at all.”

Ms Fisher: “Tell me why you think he’s dead.”

Mr Gaman: “Because he’s not moved and his eyes are half open.”

Ms Fisher: “Maybe we can help him still before the ambulance arrives.”

Ms Fisher then talks Mr Gaman through how to give CPR to the body.

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