A Sodexo barista supervisor performed lifesaving CPR just days after taking a first aid course with the company.

Aeli-Mai Pope was working at The Apex Café in Bury St Edmunds four days after taking a lifesaving course when a member of public burst in asking for a first aider.

On the street outside Aeli-Mai found a crowd gathered around a man who had collapsed having suffered a cardiac arrest. When an off-duty nurse began to tire doing chest compressions Aeli-Mai stepped in to continue the lifesaving procedure until emergency services arrived, by which point the man had started breathing again.

Aeli-Mai went on to feature in her local newspaper last month as part of an appeal for everyone involved in the incident, including the survivor, to come forward and meet again under better circumstances. The search continues.

Sodexo provides catering, hospitality and retail services to the St Edmundsbury Collection – which includes venues The Apex, Athenaeum and Moyse’s Hall Museum and the Abbey Gardens. The £7m contract with St Edmundsbury Borough Council began in 2012.

Aeli-Mai Pope, Sodexo barista supervisor at The Apex, said, “Whenever I’ve spoken to people who have done first aid, all they’ve done is put someone’s arm in a sling or put a plaster on somebody – this wasn’t what you expect for your first ‘first aid’ experience.

“There was a small crowd around a man on the floor and a lady was doing CPR. She looked like she was tiring so I said ‘can I do anything to help?’ and she said ‘yes, take over once I’ve done this count’. I was absolutely terrified. My mind was a bit of a blank to be honest – I was just working on auto-pilot from what I had learned on the course. We managed to get him breathing which was crazy – I was so relieved. I was definitely in shock after. I couldn’t stop shaking and I was crying – I was definitely overwhelmed.

“I’d love to speak to the other people involved because it really was a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without their support. We all worked together and managed to perform something that was amazing.”

Steve Smith, Sodexo general manager of The Apex, said, “Aeli-Mai has been working with us for six months and we think an awful lot of her so we wanted to promote her to a supervisory position, and to be a supervisor within this specific building, because of the number of people who come in here, you need a first aid certificate.

“To actually go out and do full CPR four days after completing the course, well, what can you say? We’re incredibly proud of her. It’s a great reminder as to why first aid training is so important and an excellent example of Sodexo’s values of team spirit and service spirit in action.”

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