Role in helping save workmate’s life earns Swan View man St John Ambulance Community Hero Award


John Healy still has a stranglehold on his mate Frank Sultana after an accident on a building site in Carlisle in 2015. Picture: Bruce Hunt
John Healy still has a stranglehold on his mate Frank Sultana after an accident on a building site in Carlisle in 2015. Picture: Bruce Hunt

HE will not admit it, but Swan View’s John Healy is the best kind of hero.

He is humble, caring and under pressure he saves lives.

However, a year ago he did not know he had the super-human strength it took to bring his workmate, Frank Sultana, back from the dead.

The two men were working on a building site in Carlisle and they were bricklaying and doing carpentry alongside each other.

“It was coming to the end of the day and the job was just about finished so I said ‘I might knock off now’ and Frank said ‘I’ll hang around and just finish this doorway off for another ten minutes’.

“When he said that I thought ‘well I’ll stay till you finish’ and he said ‘no you go’ and I said ‘no I’ll hang around’.”

At that pivotal moment, John Healy made a decision that would ultimately save Frank Sultana’s life.

Frank was working on a doorframe and as he was using a piece of equipment that cut the wood, but it jammed.

As he tried to remove it, it kicked back and cut the carotid artery on his neck.

John said blood was spurting out of the wound very quickly.

He then jumped up on the scaffolding and managed to get Frank to the ground and sent some people across the road to a sports factory who came running back with shorts and tops.

“He kept looking at me and saying ring my wife,” John said.

He told Frank to calm down, it would all be ok.

“I told him I’ve got this mate, you’ll be right,” he said.

John clamped both hands around Frank’s neck and held him in a stranglehold position with the fabric to try to stem the blood and stop the wound from bleeding out.

“Another chap rung an ambulance and rang his wife and said meet us at the hospital.”

John said it took about between five to eight minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

“When they got there the paramedics surveyed the scene and said ‘we have to leave your hands there we can’t take them off his neck as this is applying pressure to the wound and you’ll have to get in the back of the ambulance with Frank.’

“I climbed in and kept holding his neck but he died in the ambulance on the way to emergency.

“The paramedics got him back, and I was still holding on.

“When we got to the hospital the surgeons and nurses were waiting and they were very relaxed which made a huge difference they brought this incredible calm feeling to everything and just got on with it but no one was rushing they were just so professional and amazing.”

John said as they tried to wheel Frank into the theatre to operate they asked him to remove his hands from his neck.

“The problem was my hands had cramped so I couldn’t let go. They had to give me a relaxant to be able to remove my hands.”

John said the nurses told him his friend would be ok, “but to be honest I was shaking like a leaf”.

“I’m proud of what I did but I don’t want to see it again,” he said.

Covered in blood, the nurses helped John to shower and get some clean clothes after the emergency admission.

“The nurses were fantastic,” he said.

“The help and support was unbelievable and I was in shock and Frank was dead on arrival.

“It rattled me but the most important thing was that we saved Frank’s life.”

The men had been working on the Carlisle building site for two years as contractors, both self-employed.

At the time of the accident Frank Sultana was 72-years-old.

John said Frank was a pretty fit bloke who had looked after himself and kept going to work because it was a pleasure.

“He enjoyed work and he didn’t want to retire yet but he hasn’t been back on site since the accident,” he said.

“I just spoke to him on the phone today actually and he is going great.”

John Healy is a recipient of a Community Hero Award from the St John Ambulance.