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Commendation for life saving firefighter Mark Baines

There were emotional scenes at Grays Fire Station on Tuesday September 30 when grandfather Ian Bainbridge was reunited with Mark Baines, the firefighter who saved his life when he suffered a heart attack in the street.

Both were at the Station as Mark, who is a member of Grays’ Green Watch and lives in Rayleigh, was awarded a Chief Fire Officer's Commendation for his actions.

Driving home on Friday, July 11 Mark saw a commotion at the side of the road and pulled his car up to see if he could offer any help. Mark found a man laying face first on the pavement - on checking him he could find no pulse and no sign of breathing. 

There was a small crowd gathered around the man's collapsed body, but no one really knew what to do, so ever the professional, Mark quickly put his training into action and got to work resuscitating Ian by giving him chest compressions. Mark not only brought Ian back from the brink but he kept him alive until paramedics arrived to take over.

Now just weeks later, Ian is back on his feet and was delighted to meet up with Mark and his family at the ceremony. He was joined by his grateful family who also wanted an opportunity to thank Mark again for his quick thinking actions.

Ian said: “I have no memory of the event. I was walking down the road one minute and then two days later I was coming round in hospital. The doctors told me that I had died on the pavement and Mark had brought me back.

“After I had been in the hospital for a few days, Mark came to visit me. It was one of the most emotional events I had ever had. I was in tears meeting the man who had saved me.

“I don't know what I can ever do to thank Mark, I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him. I will be friends with him for the rest of my life. He thoroughly deserves this award - what he did for me that day is truly remarkable.”

Fate was on Ian's side that day; roadworks had forced Mark off his normal route and if that hadn't happened he would not have been the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

Modest Mark said: “When I got there Ian had only just collapsed but I could see he was in a very bad way. There was no pulse and no sign of breathing.  My training kicked in and I knew I would have to take charge of the situation - any firefighter would have done the same. 

“I started giving him chest compressions and kept going for five or six minutes until paramedics arrived and took over.

“Seeing Ian again in hospital a few days later was a surreal experience. He looked nothing like the man I thought had died on the pavement. He had colour in his face and looked a 100% better. 

“It was fantastic to see him here tonight, with his family and looking so well. We rarely get to see the results of what we do so knowing that Ian is alive and well and back with his family means a great deal to me.”

Presenting the award Deputy Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: “What Mark did exemplifies what we as a service are all about: saving lives. He could have ignored it and driven on, but helping people is in a firefighter's DNA so Mark stopped and thanks to him Ian is alive and here with us today.

“People might say that fate played a role, and that Ian is lucky that Mark was going by at that time but I truly believe that luck is just where preparation meets opportunity. Mark had the skills and didn't think twice about putting them into action to save a life.

“It gives me great pride to present him with this Chief Fire Officer's Commendation today.”

Mark originally joined Essex County Fire and Rescue Service in August 2005 as a retained firefighter at the former Rayleigh Fire Station. He transferred to the wholetime service in 2009 and joined his present watch at Grays in October 2010. His colleagues joined family, Grays Station Commander Stephen Pritchard and Councillor Kathy Kent, representing Essex Fire Authority, at the event.

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