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  • Writer's pictureHighways Heroes

Hardstaff Barriers | Brave colleagues in line for top award for helping to save man's life

Two colleagues have been shortlisted for a top highways award after helping to resuscitate a man who crashed his car on a motorway following a heart attack.

Jim Cotter and Paul Ashmore (‘Ash’), who work for Hardstaff Barriers, in Nottingham, are finalists in the Highways Heroes Awards 2022, which recognise the heroic actions of individuals working in the highways industry.

They were nominated for the award following an incident on the M6 in Cheshire in September 2021, while on their way to install a vehicle restraint system at the Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow (COP26).

The pair joined a queue of traffic forming on the motorway and noticed that a car had collided with the central reservation barrier.

Early on the scene, Jim and Ash immediately got out of their van to help and put the amber lights on the vehicle to alert approaching traffic.


As the victim’s car was against the barrier on the driver’s side, Jim, a former soldier, bravely opened the passenger door and climbed through to check on the driver.

At this point, the man was unresponsive and Jim, from Derby, struggled to find a pulse.

While they waited for the emergency services to arrive, determined to help the injured man, he continued to check for a pulse.

Still unable to get the victim out of the car, the colleagues placed some clothing on the windows to cover him from the view of passing motorists.

When the paramedic arrived and inspected the man, remarkably, he noticed that there were some signs of life.


Jim and Ash then immediately assisted the paramedic in pulling the casualty from the car, through the passenger door and onto the road. They placed him on the ground and the paramedic tasked Jim, who had recently attended a first aid refresher course at work, with performing chest compressions on the victim.

Ash assisted the medic in getting the necessary equipment and in cutting the man's clothes so that the defibrillator and other equipment could be attached.

Miraculously, after some time, the victim’s pulse slowly started to come back. He was then taken to a nearby hospital for urgent medical care.

As a result of the incident, defibrillators have been placed inside every Hardstaff Barriers work vehicle.

Jim, a Project Manager for Hardstaff Barriers and a former Warrant Officer, in the Royal Engineers, said: “We assisted with traffic when we first got there and then assisted the paramedic who arrived very shortly after us.

“I gave heart compressions whilst Ash assisted the medic in cutting the clothes to get the sensors on and using the ventilator to get some air into his lungs.

“The last we heard he was in intensive care and very poorly, but still alive. I sincerely hope he is now ok.”

Works Manager Paul, from Radcliffe on Trent, said: “As soon as we saw the collision, I knew we had to help, but it was a surprise to discover that the victim had suffered a heart attack.

“I’m proud of our efforts that day and I really hope the gentleman made a good recovery.

“Ever since the incident, I always ensure that there is a defibrillator in my vehicle.”

Jim and Ash will find out if they have been successful at the Highways Heroes Awards ceremony in London on December 7.



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