Generally bingo games take place without incident. There have been robberies and other shenanigans at bingo halls but by and large bingo players are a law abiding bunch. In bingo halls across the UK callers run the games in their own individual fashion but recently a bingo caller in Brierley Hill went above and beyond the call of duty.
Grandmother Shirley Gardener was leaving the Mecca bingo hall when she began to feel breathless. She got on the bus that was leaving the hall and collapsed between the seats. Ben Washington knew what to do thanks to his first aid training. He administered CPR until an ambulance and paramedics could arrive. Doctors credit Ben with saving Gardener’s life. Richard Gardener said “The doctor came out and said another five minutes and she wouldn’t have made it. Ben giving her CPR gave her that five minutes.”
Once he realized what was happening Ben, who had never had occasion to use his training before, went into action. Ben administered breathing and compressions which were effective. Shirley, a retired cleaner, said “He’s Ben, my guardian angel.” To show their gratitude Gardener’s family presented Ben with three bottles of his favorite drink; Jaegermeister. Shirley has been a regular at the bingo hall for 15 years. Shirley recalled the incident and stated “When I opened my eyes I just saw this big face coming at me and I heard Ben say ‘Shirley, come on’ and I don’t remember anything else.”
Ben, who lives with his wife Denise and his six year old son Cain, said “Shirley was on the floor of the bus, so I climbed over a few seats to get to her and tried to get her comfortable because I thought at first it was asthma. But she said ‘I’m going, I’m gone. That was the scariest bit, so I put her on her back and did CPR, including the kiss of life.” As Shirley regained consciousness two other bingo players, a hospital worker and a paramedic, helped Ben until the ambulance arrived.
Shirley was taken to Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital and a medical team spent another 45 minutes resuscitating Shirley. Donna Brownhill, operations manager at the bingo hall, told reporters “Ben is very modest but the club, the company and all our customers are very proud of him. His quick-thinking saved Shirley’s life.” A spokesman for the ambulance service said “When a patient suffers a medical condition every minute counts and the sooner a member of the public come to the aid of that patient the better chances that patient has of making a full recovery. The help of bystanders is also helpful to the ambulance service when such situations occur.”