Imagine this. A total stranger saves your life by stepping in to help you at a time of emergency, but you have no way of thanking them?
In fact, you don’t know their full name, whether you will ever see them again and have only a tiny clue to who and where they might be.
Back in September of this year, holidaymaker Liam Muns, 34, who was in Disneyland Paris, suffered a major health scare after choking on his food at a restaurant one evening.
A first aider was needed and thankfully sitting a just few tables away from Liam and his family was Harry Patrick, a volunteer with Mullion Coastguard Rescue Team, who was on holiday too, with his family.
Earlier this year – in June, Harry acquired new-found first-aid and life-support training skills as part of his operator role with HM Coastguard, and he was able to put that knowledge to use there and then, in the heat of the moment.
Indeed, his intervention – alongside one other person who offered immediate assistance – proved to be life-saving.
Not only was Harry able to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre, but he was also able to co-ordinate an ambulance to arrive at the restaurant, despite a language barrier and the obvious commotion involved during a busy time for the venue.
As Liam was moved into the ambulance, the two men exchanged a few words, in which Harry mentioned he was an HM Coastguard volunteer, based in Cornwall but owing to a mix-up, telephone numbers weren’t properly exchanged.
Liam spent four hours at the hospital – an anxious wait for his family – but was then able to leave relatively fit and well.
Back in the UK, and determined to track his life-saver down, he sent out a speculative Facebook message, directed to the Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team page, in the hope of tracking down the man who helped save his life and to say thank you. And, fortunately, with the help of Martin Leslie, a Coastal Operations Area Commander in Falmouth, and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, it was possible to put the two of them in touch.
Since then, Liam and Harry have been in contact and re-lived what happened over a long phone call. They are, also, hoping to meet face-to-face soon.
“I had to track him down – it was lucky I remembered that Harry was with a team in Cornwall! My Facebook message was speculative and somewhat of a long shot, but it came good. It was so great to finally catch-up with Harry and we’re going to see each other in the near future,” Liam said.
“What happened in Paris was a horrific experience but Harry was a totally calming influence and took the lead in handling the situation, which wasn’t easy.”
Harry, whose motivation for volunteering with HM Coastguard was born out of an interest in joining the emergency services, said: “My coastguard training came to the fore. I was put on the spot and my mind did go blank about it, for a bit, but, I guess, the training kicked in and I acted instinctively.”