Off-duty firefighter helps to save a life

An off-duty firefighter has been hailed a hero after administering CPR to a woman who collapsed in the street.

Leanne McGee is normally saving lives as a Crew Manager at Byker Community Fire Station for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS).

But the 41-year-old was enjoying a family day out off duty when she had to respond to an emergency unfolding before her.

Leanne was at Tynemouth Metro Station with her one-year-old daughter Isla and their Yorkshire Terrier Shih Tzu cross Stampy in September.

It was then that she saw a woman collapse and rapidly responded to begin administering emergency first aid.

Another member of the public dialled 999 while Leanne began CPR to the woman who had entered cardiac arrest.

Paramedics arrived a short time later and Leanne continued to provide assistance where she could to support her blue light colleagues.

Sadly the woman later passed away but the North East Ambulance Service paramedics who attended have since written to TWFRS to praise her actions.

Now Leanne has been rewarded for her courageous actions by Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath with a Chief Fire Officers Commendation.

Leanne, said “We were just out for a walk and have a look at the trains when I noticed the lady on the floor and there were two people around her, one on the phone and one delivering CPR but struggling.

“I went into work mood, a passer-by looked after my daughter and dog and I introduced myself as an off-duty firefighter and took over CPR from the man.

“I made sure the paramedic knew exactly where we were when she arrived and I stayed and helped her until the ambulance arrived.

“I’m glad I was able to help, normally I’m surrounded by a team to help me in these sorts of situations so I didn’t mind making sure the paramedic had help.

“I didn’t get the opportunity to thank the lady who looked after my daughter and dog that day, but thank you.

“It’s bittersweet receiving this commendation as I would have liked for the lady to be able to be here and I was so sad to hear of her passing.”

And today (Thursday) CFO Peter Heath is praising Leanne for her quick response to a crisis even though she was off duty.

He said “I want to say well done to Leanne for her response to such a traumatic incident.

“It’s a testament to the firefighters we have here at Tyne and Wear that even when Leanne was off-duty she knew she could help and stepped in to do so.

“All of our firefighters are trained in trauma care so that if they arrive at an incident and members of the public need emergency care we can help our blue light colleagues.

“Leanne was nominated for the award by the paramedic who attended the emergency call that day who has expressed her sincere thanks for the support that day.

“It is incredibly sad that the patient later passed away and all of our thoughts are with her family at what must be a difficult time.

“We hope that it can offer them some solace that Leanne was on hand and did everything she possibly could to save her life.”

Paramedic Helen Gibson, who was rapid response to the incident that day, said “Leanne was a bystander and carried out CPR until my arrival on scene. Not only did she provide excellent effective CPR, but she remained on scene to assist me until my colleagues arrived to help on an ambulance crew.

“Her professional manner and knowledge of first aid was exceptional and I would like thank her for her help as she left before I had the opportunity to speak to her.

“Bystander CPR is hugely important and performing CPR while our crews are travelling can be the difference between life and death.

“Cardiac arrest can strike anybody at any time in any place, and every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces the chance of survival by 10%.

“As most cardiac arrests happen at home, knowing how to do CPR can help save lives.”

Leanne was presented with her award on 7th November 2023 in front of her watch and TWFRS’s Executive Leadership Team in a small ceremony.

For more information on bystander CPR, visit: