Schoolboy saves mum's life

brandon flanighan

A cool-headed schoolboy from the North East has been hailed a hero after his calm and precise use of first aid saved his mother’s life.

Brandon Flanighan, 12, studied first aid with his friends at Morpeth Newminster Middle School as part of the St John Ambulance Northumbria Young first aider course.

When mum Jacqueline collapsed at home, suffering concussion and a gash to the head, he knew exactly what to do.

Jacqueline said: 'My head was bleeding profusely and I was drifting in and out of responsiveness. If Brandon hadn’t been there having done the St John Ambulance course and knowing exactly what to do I could have died. I am so proud of him – I can’t speak about it without crying!'

Now Brandon has been nominated for a national award, the St John Ambulance Young first aider of the year, which rewards young people who have used first aid skills to save a life or help an injured person in a real emergency. For Jacqueline there could be no greater honour for her son.

'I would love him to get recognition for what he has done, and I would urge any parent whose child is given the chance to take part in this wonderful course to seize the opportunity with both hands. These are skills which really can save a life, and which everyone should know.'

The drama unfolded at the family home in Pegswood in the early hours of the morning. Brandon’s father James had left early for work at 5am and Jacqueline was sleeping downstairs as she recovered from a painful operation on her foot. She awoke at 6am and was walking into the kitchen when she passed out and fell to the floor, hitting her head. When her daughter, Lara, 13, found her some 40 minutes later she was lying in a pool of blood.

Jacqueline said: 'I was aware of Lara’s voice and I felt the coldness of the floor. In my head I assumed I was dead and in a morgue! I was in pain and was sure I must have died. Lara called Brandon and pulled me into the sofa. He came into the room and was so calm, and immediately started talking to me, telling me what had happened and what he was about to do. I just wanted to go to sleep but obviously his training had taught him that because of my head injury that would be really dangerous, and to keep me awake.

'He put me into the recovery position and raised my legs, talking to me and reassuring me as I drifted in and out of responsiveness. He also applied pressure to my head wound with a clean tea towel and told his sister to summon help, then he kept checking the wound and talking to me until his Dad and the ambulance crew arrived, and gave a detailed handover to them about what had happened and what he had done.'

Jacqueline went on: 'I didn’t realise at the time how brilliant my children were, but looking back they were amazing. There was a lot of blood and it was a very scary situation, and yet my son transformed into this calm young man talking to me and acting as if he were a trained doctor. All I wanted to do was sleep but he kept asking me dates from history and kept me responsive. He was proud of doing the St John Ambulance course before Christmas and found it so interesting but I never dreamed he would have to use it – especially not on me and so soon.

'He is a very kind and thoughtful boy but he was amazing in this situation and I am so proud of him. All I have is a bump on my head and a scar. Without Brandon who knows if I would even be here. What if I had been at home on my own? I would advise any parent whose child has the chance to do this course to jump at it. It is so worthwhile. Imagine how powerless my children would have felt if he had not known exactly what to do.'

Peter Lane is the schools’ liaison officer for St John Ambulance Northumbria. He assessed Brandon after his Young First Aider course and nominated him for the Young First Aider of the Year Award. He said: 'Brandon behaved brilliantly and did exactly what he was trained to do. Because he had learned the skills he needed, he remained calm and confident and didn’t panic. His story is a real indication of why first aid is so important and how it can potentially be the difference between life and death.'

The deputy head teacher at Brandon’s school, Steven Johnson, said staff were reduced to tears when they heard the moving story of the quiet, thoughtful boy-turned-hero: 'Brandon is a thinker who always considers the needs and feelings of others. He used these calm and collected traits together with his newly-acquired important life skills, and this moving and heroic story is the result.

'This reaffirms to all of us at Newminster Middle School the importance of working with St John Ambulance Northumbria to offer the children these important lessons for life within school.'

The Young first aider of the year award is designed to show you are never too young to learn first aid and is open to everyone under the age of 18. Winners will be invited to a special ceremony at the historic headquarters of St John Ambulance in Clerkenwell, London, on May 30. The closing date for nominations is February 20.