Teenage first aider from Soham up for YOPEY award

Josh Dodd-Mills, Young People of the Year finalist

Josh Dodd-Mills, Young People of the Year finalist - Credit: Archant

A teenage first-aider from Soham, whose exploits include saving a toddler from falling off a window ledge, has won through to the final of a contest that showcases outstanding young people in Cambridgeshire – despite his first-aid unit closing.

Josh Dodds-Mills has pledged to put any prize money he wins from Ferrier Pearce Young People of the Year into setting up an independent first-aid group in Soham after his St John Ambulance Cadets closed when adult leaders left.

The young person of the year will win £800 in prize money out of a total of £2,000 to be given away to young people like Josh who go the extra mile to help others.

Josh, of Heron Croft, was put forward by Simon Butler, former assistant commissioner for youth for the St John Ambulance in Cambridgeshire and also Josh’s head of year at Soham Village College until Josh left this summer.

Simon said that Josh was in the cadets for a relative short time of 20 months. During that time he did all the first-aid courses, a leadership course, advanced first-aid, courses on drugs awareness and homelessness, and qualified to use a defibrillator to help heart attack victims.

Simon said: “This would normally be done over three years but Josh is very keen and enthusiastic with a lot of energy and willing to learn. He has borrowed some of my paramedic textbooks and read them. His standard of patient care is exceptional.

“After 30 years as a paramedic I can say that Josh is one of the best medics I have had. He has a good spirit and sense of humour. The incident where he saved the child is typical of his quick-thinking, courage and energy.”

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That incident took place early one morning last October when Josh’s family spotted a baby aged about 12 months crawling towards an upstairs window of a neighbour’s house.

Josh, 16, climbed over two six-foot fences, through a downstairs open window and ran upstairs just in time to grab the baby who was teetering on the window’s edge.

For his prompt life-saving actions, Josh became the only member of the St John Ambulance in Cambridgeshire to be awarded the National Honour for Services to First Aid.

Josh left St John a few weeks ago when the unit folded after Simon and other adult leaders left the movement for various reasons.

Josh is now doing a level three public service course at Milton College. He hopes this will go towards qualifying him for university and a course to become a paramedic. An alternative option is an army medic.

Josh said: “I wasn’t the best student at Soham Village College. It was difficult to behave in lessons and I was always getting into trouble.”

He said he joined St John because he wanted to do something positive. “I got a buzz out of helping patients while being on duty with St John. I have treated and looked after patients of all ages and in lots of different situations.”

He said that the rescue of the baby all happened so quickly. “I just acted on instinct. There was just relief when I managed to get hold of the child.”

“Sadly my St John unit has closed and I have left the movement. But if I win a YOPEY prize I will put this towards the formation of an independent first-aid group in Soham.”

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said: “It’s sad that Josh’s St John unit has closed. But it is clear he wants to move forward. If he wins YOPEY, he wants to use the prize money to set up a new first-aid group in Soham.”

The 2013 Cambridgeshire YOPEY awards are being held at St Neots on Wednesday, October 23, where Josh will be competing against young unsung heroes from across Cambridgeshire for £2,000 in prize money put up by sponsors, including Ely companies G’s and The Micron Group.

For more information visit yopey.org.