Bus passenger saves pensioner by performing CPR at Craigentinny bus stop

William MacDonald performed CPR on Thomas Batchelor. Picture: Greg Macvean
William MacDonald performed CPR on Thomas Batchelor. Picture: Greg Macvean

A QUICK-thinking bus passenger raced to the rescue when he saw a pensioner collapse in the street.

Tommy Batchelor suffered a cardiac arrest at a bus stop in Craigentinny after a day spent helping out at a nearby community centre.

Thomas Batchelor collapsed at a bus stop. Picture: contributed

Thomas Batchelor collapsed at a bus stop. Picture: contributed

But William MacDonald saw the 69-year-old fall to the ground and leapt into action, performing CPR alongside two other passers-by.

The kitchen porter from Restalrig had some experience with St John’s Ambulance “many years ago” – and had seen the British Heart Foundation’s Stayin’ Alive campaign starring ex-footballer Vinny Jones on TV – but this was his first attempt at CPR in a real-life emergency.

He was today hailed a hero by the family of Mr Batchelor, who is recovering in hospital ten days after his sudden collapse.

Mr MacDonald, 39, was returning from a hospital appointment of his own with his daughter and pregnant partner when he glanced through the bus window.

“I saw the guy stumble, fall forward and hit his head off the bus shelter,” he said.

“I shouted to the bus driver ‘Stop the bus!’.

“I ran straight over, made him comfortable and started CPR.

“His face was purple and his body was tensing up.

“If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure I was doing it properly. Another woman turned up and she started doing it [CPR] as well. I’m not a hero – and anybody would have done the same.”

But after speaking with consultants at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Mr Batchelor’s family believes Mr MacDonald’s early intervention saved the pensioner’s life.

Daughter Lauren Batchelor said: “The doctors call him a walking miracle and he is. My dad is such a loved man in and around our community.

“He was actually working at Craigentinny Community Centre when it happened.

“My father owes his life to William and also to the two ladies who helped. I hope they get in contact with the family as my dad wants to meet them and thank them. Without all their help my dad wouldn’t be alive and I am eternally grateful to them because my dad is my world.”

Mr Batchelor’s sister, 72-year-old Grace Cairns from Trinity, said doctors told relatives that the CPR had given paramedics, who quickly arrived on the scene with a defibrillator, a better chance of restarting his heart.

She said: “My brother was ‘dead’ for 18 minutes. And he may have some problems with his short-term memory and some respiratory problems.

“But he’s still here – and that’s amazing given what he’s gone through.”

Mr Batchelor has now been moved out of intensive care at the ERI and has had stents fitted to open up two blocked arteries. He is now sitting up in bed receiving visitors and is keen to meet the people who saved his life.

James Cant, director of BHF Scotland, described prompt action in these situations as “vital” because any kind of delay “rapidly reduces” survival chances.

“We’re delighted to hear that a life has been saved thanks to the quick reactions of a passer-by,” he said.

“Too many Scots who have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital die, and that’s why we’d like to see everyone learning CPR – simple skills that could save a life.

“Our hands-only CPR campaign focused on pushing hard and fast on the chest without giving rescue breaths, and it really caught the public’s imagination.”

Mr Batchelor, a retired fisherman living in Leith, volunteers at his local church and likes to keep busy working in the community.