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Life saving manager in RailStaff Awards win

A station manager who brought a passenger back from the dead has won this year’s Rail Manager of the Year.

Brian Keenan, a station manager at Heathrow Express, had just finished testing safety equipment one Saturday, little knowing he would soon be using it for real.

Lynn Crump, communications manager at Heathrow Express takes up the tale. ‘On the 5.10 train from Paddington to Heathrow on Saturday, 4 April, some fellow passengers raised the alarm about a man in his 40s who appeared to be very unwell on the train.

‘The on-board customer service representative (CSR) informed the driver who made the decision to keep travelling towards Heathrow, where there is good medical equipment readily at hand, and excellent emergency processes.’

The CSR had the presence of mind to radio ahead and talk to Brian, who was on duty at Heathrow Central Terminal Area (CTA). As soon as the train arrived, Brian boarded the train and attended to the ill passenger. This involved opening the man’s shirt and shaving his chest. Without this step the defibrillator would not have worked.

‘His eyes were locked open – no dilation,’ said Brian, who has been with Heathrow Express for 11 years.

‘Brian had never used a defibrillator on the platform before, but he took the CSR’s advice in bringing one to the scene,’ says Lynn.

‘He performed CPR for more than 12 minutes, something which the paramedics who later arrived said was “outstanding,” and literally the difference between the man living and dying. The paramedics also explained that Brian put down between 105 and 132 compressions per minute – an extraordinary number.

The man had ‘flat-lined,’ in other words died, on the train, and he stopped breathing for an estimated seven minutes before Brian resuscitated him. He was later taken to Hillingdon Hospital, where he subsequently made a full recovery.

Says Heathrow Express controller Nikki Sohal, ‘I was one of the controllers on shift when Brian Keenan saved a man’s life.

‘I liaised with the paramedics until they arrived on the platform to take over.

‘After the incident, I had a few paramedics mention to me that Brian’s skill and training in using the defibrillator, and remaining calm under pressure whilst using it, without doubt had saved this man’s life. I mentioned this to Brian and he said it was very much a team effort, which it was, but Brian showed great leadership and remained calm under pressure in a difficult situation.

‘When the man was taken to hospital, Brian’s first concern was for the rest of the staff working at the station. Very well done Brian.’

‘I am elated at winning this,’ says Brian. ‘I certainly didn’t expect it. It’s an award for all of us. I’d like to thank my workmates. Without them nothing would have happened – it was a real team effort.’

Says colleague Brian Timmins, ‘His courage, confidence and bravery quite simply brought back a life. I have not witnessed this before during my 10 years at Heathrow Express.

‘Brian should be enormously proud of his achievement here, which made the difference between life or death.’

Rail Manager of the Year award was sponsored by infrastructure support service provider Amey.

Says Amey’s Lee Jones, who presented the award, ‘Amey is proud to support these awards and recognise the amazing contributions made by the unsung heroes of our industry.

‘We’re particularly pleased to sponsor the Rail Manager of the Year Award which highlights the great work and achievements of those who have taken on very demanding leadership roles. Congratulations to all nominees and winners.’

Highly commended

  • Pam Williams, Northern Rail
  • Simon Cassidy, Great Western Railway


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