Havering PCSO saves man an ‘hour from death’

The quick-thinking of an off-duty Havering PCSO saved the life of a vulnerable man who was less than an hour from death.

Jan Gooderham was walking her dogs in Pages Wood, Upminster, when she came across personal belongings strewn across a bench, including used insulin jabs.

The 54-year-old “knew in her heart” something wasn’t right and called in support from colleagues.

She said: “There was cans of beer - some opened, some unopened – cigarettes, a bottle opener, an iPod, diabetic medicine, and what I assumed was family photographs.

“It looked like someone’s last meal - all the things you’d want around you if you were planning to kill yourself.”

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Jan, from Upminster, also came across an address, and officers discovered it belonged to a high-risk missing person who had disappeared in the small hours of that morning - leaving behind a suicide note.

“I felt a huge sense of urgency,” said Jan. “I knew there was someone out there planning to commit suicide or who had done it. I was very panicky.”

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A police helicopter and dog unit were called in before officers discovered the unconscious body of a 44-year-old man, around 300 yards from the bench.

Paramedics said the man was less than hour from slipping into a self-induced insulin coma which would have led to a slow but painless death.

“I started crying when they told me he was all right and they had caught him just in time,” said Jan. “I don’t normally take that path in the woods but when I saw the belongings on the bench I knew something wasn’t right and I took a split-second decision to investigate. I had seen several people walk past it.”

She added: “I’m ecstatic that he’s alive and proud of myself for what I did.”

Sgt Colin Flynn, of Hylands Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “PCSO Gooderham’s instinct that something was wrong proved correct on this occasion and saved the life of a male who was hours away from death. It is this dedication to her role - even when off duty - that means the communities of Havering can feel assured of high levels of service at all times.”

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