Witnesses speak of driver’s heart attack on board a speeding train

Heroic Nurse Hilary Upson..Picture Richard Ponter 123905
Heroic Nurse Hilary Upson..Picture Richard Ponter 123905

A Scarborough nurse who helped save the life of a train driver who suffered a heart attack at work has spoken about the incident.

Passengers were first aware that something was wrong when a First Transpennine Express service from Scarborough to Liverpool Lime Street was brought to a sudden halt near to Rillington Crossing, Sherburn.

The driver has since made a good recovery and was able to be released from Castle Hill hospital, in Hull, sooner than expected on Friday.

The incident was on Monday, September 17, and Hilary Upson, who works at St Catherine’s Hospice, was planning few days away when the conductor asked if any of the passengers had any medical training.

She said that there was not much space in the driver’s cab and the conductor helped them to lift him out. She added: “There was nothing on the train. I expected a defibrillator or oxygen. There was a first aid bag but it was standard stuff.”

And she said that she had been in that kind of off-duty situation before but never on a train. “I’ve got a duty to help out where possible and you weigh up each situation.”

The patient had to be airlifted from the scene by a helicopter from Yorkshire Air Ambulance and it was filmed for the BBC programme Helicopter Heroes. “It didn’t sink in what was happening,” she said.

She added that the fact four trained nurses were on board the train did contribute to saving the driver’s life. “It doesn’t bear thinking about what would’ve happened,” she said.

At the time of the incident the driver was praised because he managed to bring the vehicle safely to a standstill despite his situation.

After the emergency the service was taken to Malton where it was terminated. Passengers were transferred to another service for their onward journeys.

A number of passengers from Scarborough also contacted the paper including Faith Young who witnessed the incident.

She said that the train came to a sudden stop just after West Heslerton. She added: “At this stage, we were all unsure as to why it had stopped so abruptly. However, within seconds the conductor came down the carriage to the driver’s cab, which was at the front of our particular carriage.

“The driver appeared to be in some distress and the conductor asked if there was anyone with first aid or medical training on board. Luckily there were several volunteers who were probably nurses and they got to work straight away, making sure the driver was comfortable.”

Mrs Young said that it was clear an ambulance would not get to the train by road and it was decided to ask for the air ambulance. “Some paramedics arrived on foot, and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance arrived shortly after,” she said.

She added that The helicopter landed in a ploughed field next to the train. “The main thing was the driver was transferred safely to Hull and seems to making a good recovery.”

Jenny Whitelaw, a Scarborough student who was travelling to Liverpool, said that it was lucky there were four nurses on the train and the other three were travelling to Preston.

She added: “I was really worried at first, I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was really serious – I thought he was going to die. The nurses got everything under control”