August 14, 2015

An Army Cadet Force sergeant instructor has been presented with an award for bravery.

St John Scotland bestowed its highest bravery award to Shetlander Jessica Bradley after she risked her own safety to help a man in danger of bleeding to death from a self-inflicted knife wound to the neck.

Jessica, from Upper Sound in Lerwick, received the Order of St John’s Gold Life-Saving Medal at a ceremony in Edinburgh Castle.

It was presented (above) by the charity’s Prior, Major General Mark J.Strudwick, the former General Officer Commanding the Army in Scotland.

It was just over two years ago that Jessica, then only 20, faced drug and alcohol-fuelled violence as she and a friend, Claire Hendry, were leaving a house in Grodians, Lerwick, and heard glass smashing and someone screaming for an ambulance.

As they ran across the street towards the noise a young man emerged repeatedly shouting: “He’s cut himself.”

Trained first-aider Jessica grabbed a first aid kit from her car and told Claire to telephone for help.

Inside the house Jessica found two men struggling. One was the resident, who was apparently trying to eject the other, although he was clearly injured.

“I had to fight off the unhurt one, but managed to get a look at the other. He had a really serious throat wound and was bleeding badly,” said Jessica.

“I’ve actually known him since I was four years old at nursery, so there was a connection and I managed to talk to him and calm him down enough to apply pressure to the wound.”

For the next ten minutes, until the emergency services arrived, Jessica had to keep the householder at bay, while attempting to keep the casualty calm. The situation deteriorated even more however, when the injured man became violent, kicking and punching Jessica and eventually breaking away and locking himself in another room.

She said: “After that I kept talking to him through the door and managed to get him to press a blanket to the wound and he seemed to become calm again.”

It did however take six police officers and two ambulance personnel to subdue him enough to get him to hospital.

Jessica was nominated for the St John Scotland award by her Cadet Force Battery Commander, Kevin Bryant, who said: “Jessica acted in an exceptionally brave and professional manner with no thought for her own safety in what was a dangerous situation.”

Lt Col A.J.Sharkey, chairman of the Army Cadet Force Association/Combined Cadet Force Association First Aid Panel, said: “Jessica saved the man’s life, placing the need for immediate action above the need for her own safety.”

Support for the Award also came from Niall Bristow, a paramedic with 27 years’ experience with the Scottish Ambulance Service in Lerwick, who attended the incident in May 2013.

He said: “The scene was chaotic, yet Jessica’s behaviour was driven by her desire to do her best for a fellow human being. She is a credit to her family, friends, the Army Cadet Force and herself.”

Jessica added: “I’m totally overwhelmed by getting this award. At the time I didn’t think about being in any danger. I just did what I was trained to do and I’m proud of that. I’ve always wanted to be able to help people.”

Jessica joined the Shetland Independent Cadet Battery when she was just 12 because she was “Very interested in the Army”. It was there she got her initial training in first aid, adding to her knowledge and skills later by volunteering to become a First Responder with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

She tried twice to join the Army, where she dreamed of becoming a medic, but sadly was thwarted by health problems. She now works for a company supporting the offshore oil and gas industry.

She holds no bitterness towards the young man who attacked her, while she was trying desperately to save his life. She said: “I’ve got a lot of sympathy for anyone with the problems he had, but I’m glad to say he seems to have turned his life around and has actually done very well for himself. He is now working offshore.”

Her proud mother and father, Wynne and Derrick Bradley joined Jessica at the ceremony.