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Life changing and life saving

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Published on 12 March 2024

Eddy Coniff
Eddy Coniff

Eddy Coniff, Engagement Assistant at the University’s Centre for Graduate Prospects, who is in the final year of his Psychology degree, was working a late shift at the Graduate Destinations Call Centre, when he became involved in a life or death emergency.

“I had finished my shift at 8pm and was leaving to catch my bus on Durham Road,” says Eddy. “I was heading through the underpass at University Metro when someone came up to me and told me a homeless lady was having a seizure. 

“I ran down and she was unresponsive and had stopped breathing. She’d turned completely blue. I discovered she had taken an overdose, so I immediately phoned an ambulance and began CPR.”

Eddy continued administering CPR for ten minutes until emergency services arrived, by which time he had managed to revive the woman.

“The police and ambulance crew told me I had saved her life,’ says Eddy. “Thankfully I had undergone training last year to become a first aider for my department. That training was really invaluable, it enabled me to be confident with what I was doing, even though it was a scary situation.”

Eddy has been in touch with the ambulance service and has since discovered that the woman he saved has fully recovered and has been offered support.

Eddy is due to graduate this summer and has been supported during his studies as a care experienced or estranged student. Eddy is now passing on some of the support he received. He became a Senior Student Ambassador and received a commendation as Student of the Year at the 2023 NEON Awards. 

“I really feel I can make a difference to students from widening access and participation backgrounds, and to those students who are care experienced or estranged like myself,” says Eddy. “I feel I can really help those who need more representation and support at Sunderland.”

At the Centre for Graduate Prospects, Eddy works with underrepresented students who fall into APP (Access and Participation Plan) categories, offering one to one support and referrals.

Gareth Trainer, Head of the Centre for Graduate Prospects at the University, said: "It says so much about Eddy that was able to put his training into action so instinctively in a situation that would have intimidated many of us. His bravery, confidence and passion for people saved a life and we couldn’t be prouder."

Eddy is now urging more people to take up first aid training.

“You never think you will need it until you find yourself in a situation where you really need it,” says Eddy. “Without that training, the events of that night may have had a different outcome.”

For more information on how the University of Sunderland supports care experienced students, visit: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/help/care-experienced-support/ 

For support for estranged students, visit https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/help/estranged-support/