Case Studies

Heather Seggie and Macfarlan Smith

Heather Seggie & Eleanor Bremner
Edinburgh based pharmaceutical company, Macfarlan Smith is committed to providing their staff with the highest standards in first aid training. St Andrew’s First Aid have been delivering training to Macfarlan Smith for several years and the organisation now has four Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) which are placed strategically around their site.

It was one of these AEDs that saved the life of 73 year old Ronald McCandless in November of 2014. Ronald had been at a Scotland International rugby match and collapsed on the roadside outside Macfarlan Smith’s premises in Edinburgh. A First Aider from Macfarlan Smith performed CPR and then used the machine on Ronald as he suffered a cardiac arrest.

What makes the story so incredible is that the First Aider who was helping Ronald was actually his daughter- 47 year old Heather Seggie, an employee at Macfarlan Smith. Heather had left her car in the company’s car park during the game and when she arrived back to collect the car with her father, Ronald started having trouble breathing.

“I wasn’t sure if he was having an asthma attack at that point as he is severely asthmatic but it became obvious in seconds that he had actually stopped breathing properly. A passer-by helped me to lay him down on the floor and we commenced CPR and mouth to mouth,” says Heather.

The situation quickly became critical, but luckily a colleague of Heather’s, who was also returning from the rugby, ran and collected one of Macfarlan Smith’s AEDs. Heather attached the AED to her father whilst a passerby continued CPR.

“The AED told me to administer a shock which I did and thankfully he started to breathe by himself instantly. Another passer-by was beside me at this point and he said that he had been told there was oxygen in one of the bags my colleague had brought out but that he couldn’t open it. I said there was scissors in the bag to cut the security tab. I thought on hindsight it was funny when he asked me how I knew this and I replied “It’s my bloody kit!” I was a wee bit stressed! I then assisted Dads breathing with the bag and mask till the ambulance arrived which was almost instantly.”

Ronald was taken to the Royal Infirmary hospital in Edinburgh – he spent the next 3 weeks having several heart operations and was finally fitted with an internal AED. Thankfully he is now fighting fit and because of his experience he has helped raise money to purchase an AED for his local bowling club.

A microbiologist, Heather has worked at Macfarlan Smith for almost 28 years. The first aid training she received and continues to receive through her work, is something Heather is immensely grateful for as without it, she may not have been able to save her father’s life.

“Using an AED on my own Dad was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Afterwards everyone said I looked so calm but I think it was a bit of the swan thing; calm on top of the water but paddling like mad underneath. It is part of my job to train the first aid team members in using the AEDs but I never thought I would have to use it for real,” says Heather.

Heather won the Douglas Bremner Memorial Award at the 2014 Scottish First Aid Awards.


Freya Cowan

Freya & Shaun Case Study
Police officer Freya Cowan is used to dealing with emergencies when she is at work. However, back in January of  2014, 26 year old Freya found herself right in the middle of a first aid emergency whilst off duty. Freya was running in Edinburgh as she was training for the London marathon, when she saw a young man lying on the pavement, surrounded by people. Thinking that she might be able to help, Freya approached the group and quickly realised that the young man wasn’t breathing. Having assessed the situation, she began CPR and continued until the paramedics arrived.

Freya’s fast response and first aid training meant that she helped save 19 year old, Shaun Hodgson’s life. Shaun had been cycling to Peffermill Playing Fields in Edinburgh to play football when he started to feel unwell. A PE student at Edinburgh University, Shaun has always been a keen sportsman and likes to keep fit and healthy. However on that day in January, he was struggling to catch his breath and then suddenly collapsed. Shaun had gone into cardiac arrest and when the paramedics arrived, they had to use a defibrillator to save his life. He then spent two days in a medically induced coma at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary. Whilst no definitive cause was ever discovered for why Shaun suffered a cardiac arrest; he was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator which monitors his heart rate and delivers small shocks if the heart rhythms become irregular.

Freya’s actions in January are highly commendable and something which Shaun’s parents are forever thankful for.

Shaun’s mum Alison says:
“Freya undoubtedly saved Shaun’s life and ensured oxygen was getting to his brain which meant that after 2 days in a coma Shaun woke to no nerve or brain damage – something which we are extremely grateful for. Freya is an absolute hero in our eyes as she has given us the gift of our son’s future, which without her actions would not have existed.”

Freya has been a police officer for 18 months and is stationed at Wester Hailes Police Station in Edinburgh. Her job as a police officer and the 6 years she spent as an RNLI crew member in North Berwick means that Freya has up to date first aid training, however she is keen to emphasise the importance of everyone having first aid skills; not just people who work in the emergency services.

“Having the skills to save someone’s life is invaluable. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t have first aid training. It doesn’t take much time to learn and it is so practical,” says Freya.

Whilst Freya has plenty of first aid training, she had never actually performed CPR on anyone until that day in January.

“Obviously resuscitation Annie is a good pal of mine but until I met Shaun; I’d never performed CPR on a real life person before,” says Freya.

When Shaun got out of hospital he paid a visit to Freya to thank her for saving his life. It was an amazing moment for Freya as so often in her job as a police officer she never gets to find out what happens once she has left an incident. Freya was so pleased she got to see Shaun again and hear all about his recovery.

“He just looked so different; he looked healthy and lively and more importantly he was breathing! It was so good to see him,” says Freya.

Shaun brought Freya some flowers and chocolates as a thank you gift and inside a card he wrote:
“Chocolates aren’t enough but I couldn’t afford jewellery!”

As well as being nominated for a Scottish First Aid Award in 2014, Freya won a Royal Humane Society Award earlier the same year.

Shaun and his family cannot thank Freya enough for the action she took in January; Shaun’s dad David says:

“There truly are not enough or powerful enough words to say what we feel about her actions, and the impact her actions, have made on our lives. How do you say thank you to someone who has saved your son’s life? I suppose this award nomination is our way of saying thank you. Without Freya’s actions on that day, one of the two most important people in our lives would have been taken away from us. The only way for us to, in any measure, thank Freya is to help Shaun live his life to the full and to reach his potential.”


Shaun Conway

Shaun Conway
Shaun Conway has taken on a huge amount of responsibility as a volunteer with St Andrew’s First Aid. Shaun has been volunteering with St Andrew’s First Aid for over several years and in this role he takes on many tasks to support his team and the wider community.

“I really like the fact that you can give something back to the community when you volunteer with St Andrew’s First Aid. I also like the fact that there is a lot of room for progression within the organisation as well; you don’t need to stay as a Basic First Aider, you can work your way up into different roles, which is really good,” says Shaun.

During his time at St Andrew’s First Aid, Shaun has clocked up an impressive amount of hours as a volunteer; often giving up hundreds of hours of his time a year to the organisation. He was also one of the volunteers representing St Andrew’s First Aid at the Cenotaph Parade in London in 2014 as part of the Remembrance Day services. Shaun enjoys being able to help people and understands the importance First Aid has to play not only during public events but in everyday life and likes to encourage people to learn even basic first aid skills.

“First aid is about being the first person there to help someone when they are at their most vulnerable. It is such an important life skill to have,” says Shaun.


Saturday Night Lifesaver

david corrigan
It was a typical Saturday night for Springburn Academy pupil, David Corrigan, when he suddenly found himself putting to good use the first aid skills he had learnt just weeks earlier.

Seventeen-year-old David is a graduate of the St Andrew’s First Aid pilot project BandAge15 which teaches school pupils first aid and creates Peer Facilitators. David was in Glasgow’s city centre in late February 2016 when he witnessed a man being knocked over by a bus.

“Me and my friend were walking towards the bus stop on Argyle Street when a man ran past us to cross the road and a bus hit him. It caught the right-hand side of his body and the man spun round, fell and hit the back of his head on the road. I ran to him to help and shouted ‘Can you hear me, can you hear me?’ he was still breathing but he was unconscious,” says David.

The man was badly injured and had a serious head wound. Whilst others walked by, the free training David received from St Andrew’s First Aid meant he had the skills and the confidence to help when someone needed it most.

‘Another passer-by helped me put the injured man into the recovery position and that’s when we realised he was bleeding from his head.”

David went to get tissues to help stem the bleeding from a nearby shop whilst the other Good Samaritan waited with the man. David then applied pressure to the wound and tried to keep the man conscious by talking to him and reassuring him that help was on the way.

“Someone tried to pull me away because they thought I didn’t know what I was doing but I told them that I had just passed my Emergency First Aid so they let me through again to help,” says David.

It took several minutes for the ambulance to arrive but David’s quick thinking meant that the man’s airway was kept clear and his condition monitored. Both the ambulance crew and the police praised David’s actions and his maturity in such a stressful situation. Whilst David has had no direct contact with the man who was knocked down, he has heard that he was in a stable condition in hospital.

David volunteered to take part in BandAge15 as he wants to become a sports coach and thought having a first aid qualification would be useful to have. St Andrew’s First Aid launched the pilot project in 2015 which was aimed at young adults in deprived areas of Glasgow. Four secondary schools were selected to take part in the project which began on Monday 16 February 2015 at St Roch’s Secondary and also visited Springburn Academy, Cleveden Secondary and John Paul Academy.

As well as teaching pupils first Aid, BandAge15 also tackled subjects such as knife crime with the hope that if pupils understand the devastating consequences knife wounds can have, they will avoid being part of that culture. Young people who are trained to understand and deal with the effects of knife injuries are much less likely to inflict them. Pupils were also offered the chance to become Peer Facilitators so they would able to cascade the skills they have learnt down to younger pupils and promote first aid in their school and wider community. In November 2015, graduates of BandAge15 took part in a CPR Awareness day where they taught over 50 younger pupils this lifesaving skill. The event was filmed by STV Glasgow and was a fantastic example of interdisciplinary work and showed just how easy it is to learn a skill which could potentially save someone’s life.

David is so pleased he took part in the project and would encourage everyone to learn first aid as he is proof that it does make a difference in an emergency.

“If I didn’t know first aid then that man might not have lived to see his family or friends. People have said to me, ‘I couldn’t have done what you did’ but I’ve said to them, why not? If it was your family, would you not want someone to help them? First Aid saves lives, it’s that simple.”

David is just one of many graduates from the project. So far BandAge15 has trained over 4o0 pupils in first aid and created over 40 Peer Facilitators. David’s story proves that together we really can save lives.