Holby hero Debbie praised by ambulance service for quick thinking

Debbie Ross- Harwood with her chief officer commedation presented by paramedic Russ Rookley

Debbie Ross- Harwood with her chief officer commedation presented by paramedic Russ Rookley - Credit: Archant

A café owner who saved the life of a customer has been given an award for her quick thinking by the East of England Ambulance Service.

Debbie Ross-Harwood, 56, who runs the Debest in Huntingdon Bus Station, became a life-saver in July last year after learning her skills on TV hospital drama Holby City.

Although she had never performed CPR before, the grandmother, from Priory Road, Huntingdon, leapt into action to give treatment to 65-year-old Manuel Vieria who was suffering a heart attack.

Debbie said: “He was on the floor and did not look too good. I felt for a pulse and there was nothing, so I started doing chest compressions. I watch Holby City a lot and also thought of the Vinnie Jones, British Heart Foundation, Staying Alive advert.”

To praise her for her actions Debbie was presented with a chief officer commendation yesterday (March 3) by paramedic Russ Rookley.

Debbie told The Hunts Post: “It was really unexpected but I feel really proud to be given the award. I got the phone call to tell me that I was getting the award for outstanding contribution.

“Since the day I have a lot of people say to me that if I am going to have a heart attack I’ll come into the bus station to have it.”

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“My advice is to have a go and when push comes to shove, anyone can do it. You have nothing to lose.”

On the day, Debbie put Mr Vieria into the recovery position and continued compressions and managed to revive in four times.

Paramedic Russ, who arrived after the 999 call, said: “She was doing very good CPR considering she had no formal training. I urged her to continue whilst I got the defibrillator pads on the patient’s chest. We resuscitated him straight away after one shock.”

Mr Vieria was then taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital and transferred to Papworth Hospital where he made a full recovery before The Hunts Post reunited him with Debbie at his home in Huntingdon.

Since then the grandfather has become a regular customer at Debbie’s café and continues to thank her for her brave actions.