Heroic police officers saved a man’s life by plugging his wound with their hands – for 90 minutes.
Officers and a paramedic kept pressure on the stab victim’s neck to stop him bleeding to death as he was taken from the street to hospital, through X-rays and into surgery.
They could not let go until moments before surgeons operated on the 22-year-old – as even the shortest loss of pressure could have caused fatal blood loss. PC Ali Deller, 28, feared at one point she would faint – but knew she could not.
PC Deller said: “I thought, ‘If I faint he is going to die’, so I just looked at the floor for a minute.”
Their efforts meant the victim was discharged from hospital just three days later. He now calls the team his “guardian angels”.
PC Deller and PC Alec Barrett were on duty in Brighton at 5am last Sunday when they found a man lying in a pool of blood outside the NatWest bank in Castle Square, his head cradled by a man and a woman.
The pair, both 28, tended to the victim as their colleagues kept a look-out in case the perpetrator returned to the scene.
PC Deller said: “It was a case of getting our hands there and getting the pressure on. You could feel the blood coming out.
“We managed to hold a bandage there to put more pressure on but at that moment I realised that we could not move our hands.
“I thought he was going to die on my lap.
“He kept saying he was going to die. I was comforting him but I knew that was a possibility. He was conscious but he was very scared.”
Paramedics arrived moments later, but PC Deller knew they could not yet let go of the man’s neck.
She said: “The paramedic said, ‘do you want me to take over?’ and I said ‘no, if I move my hand he is going to lose a lot of blood and I am not willing to risk it’.”
She kept her hands in place as the conscious victim was helped onto an ambulance.
PC Barrett said: “I was holding his hand trying to keep him calm, telling him he was going to be alright. I was squeezing his hand so he knew I was there. He was quite clearly losing quite a lot of strength.”
PC Deller and a paramedic kept the pressure on his neck as medics administered drugs in the ambulance.
PC Barrett said the victim, a Hungarian national, asked for his arm so he could make the Sign of the Cross.
He added: “He said: ‘If I was in Hungary, I would be dead by now’.”
When they arrived at the Royal Sussex County Hospital a doctor told PC Deller: “You are doing a great job, are you ok where you are?”
PC Deller said: “They put us in tabards so he could be X-rayed with us.
“Him and I had built up quite a rapport so he kept on asking me to explain what was going on, which I did while reassuring him he was going to be ok.”
PC Barrett said: “It was a juggle between trying to maintain the pressure on his neck and keeping in human contact by holding his hand, but also not getting in the way of the urgent medical care.”
After several medical tests, doctors decided to take the patient into theatre – with the paramedic and officer.
PC Deller said: “They said, ‘right we are going into theatre and you are coming with us, you are not going anywhere.’ “We went into theatre and we were in there a good 20 minutes while they prepared him for surgery.
“We were holding the pressure until they were ready to go. Then me and the paramedic let our hands go and they got to work.”
She added: “You don’t expect to go into theatre as a police officer unless you are the one being operated on.”
By the time PC Deller came out of surgery, she had been applying pressure on his neck for 90 minutes.
The officers were amazed and delighted when they learned the man had been discharged from hospital after three days.
The experience spurred PC Barrett to give blood, which he plans to do this week.
The colleagues of six years praised their colleagues and medical teams.
PC Barrett said: “We would not have been able to do any of it without the support of others.”