Horsham teenager announced as finalist in St John Ambulance Everyday Heroes awards

A Horsham teenager who accidentally embedded an axe in her leg, then gave herself and her friend (who fainted) first aid, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the annual St John Ambulance Everyday Heroes Awards, supported by Laerdal Medical.

Emily Budinger, 16, of Ben Acres, has been shortlisted in the Guy Evans category, which recognises an extraordinary young person, under the age of 18, who has saved a life with first aid or has made an extraordinary first aid achievement (in honour of Guy Evans, who died when first aid might have given him a chance to live).

A-level student Emily was chopping firewood at a camp at Sasamat Lake in Canada in August last year, when her axe made contact with her leg and caused a deep laceration. The Collyer’s Sixth Form pupil explained what happened: “I’d found a good chunk of wood, and began to chop the firewood. I went to take another swing but was startled by a snapping branch and missed the firewood. Suddenly I realised the axe was not on the chopping block. I couldn’t see the blade, either. The axe was inside my leg. It had cut into my shin, buried by an inch or more.”

Emily, who learned first aid as an Army Cadet with Sussex Army Cadet Force, let go of the axe and blood started flowing down her leg. She said: “I could feel myself begin to go cold. I don’t remember how I had the clarity of mind to lay myself on my back but next thing I knew I was laying on the dirt with my leg raised. I had a bandanna on my wrist, and so I untied it and pushed it into my wound. Everything was on auto-pilot, I remember that my only thoughts were making sure I didn’t lose consciousness. I compressed the wound and yelled for a first aider.

“After what felt like forever my three friends turned the corner and stopped in their tracks. Suddenly one of them went down hard onto the ground; they’d fainted. The other friends just looked between us both, obviously overwhelmed. We had done a basic first aid course the day before, and so I knew they both knew the recovery position. I told one of them to run off and get our leader, and the other to put the fainter in the recovery position. At first, he was too confused to remember, but after a bit of coaxing he remembered. I also told him to check her breathing if she didn’t come around. Luckily, a minute or so later she woke up.

“I was beginning to feel myself go into shock. I could feel my pulse in my ears, and I was beginning to feel myself get panicky. I tried to reason with myself, saying that the fact I was even thinking coherently enough to think of this was a sign I was going to be okay. But I could feel myself losing blood and the pain of the wound was starting to burn and stab ferociously. I asked if I was looking pale. I checked my pulse and kept breathing deeply.”

Thankfully, a youth leader from the camp arrived on scene, and he began to dress the wound. As the group were in the middle of the woods, there was a possibility they would have to canoe to an evacuation point. Luckily, they received the news an off-roader was on its way to drive Emily to the nearest hospital.

Emily was taken into A and E and she was released from hospital that day. She added: “Looking back, I suppose it was a surprise I remained calm and remembered my training. I believe my actions in first aid should be accredited to the first class training I received from Sussex Army Cadet Force, and a good dose of adrenaline.

“I’m excited to be nominated for this award and to attend the ceremony in London; it is most unexpected.”

Emily is one of five finalists in the ‘Guy Evans’ category and will attend the exclusive awards ceremony at the Hilton London Bankside on 28 September.

The annual Everyday Heroes Awards, supported by Laerdal, celebrates the nation’s life savers, honouring community heroes, organisations and members of the public who have used first aid to help others.

The star-studded awards will be hosted by TV presenter and best-selling author, Katie Piper, who, as an acid attack survivor and a parent, understands the importance of having life saving skills.

Elizabeth Harper, London and South regional director for St John Ambulance, said: “Everyday Heroes is the very essence of what St John Ambulance is about – ordinary people doing extraordinary things through first aid. We believe that no one should suffer for a lack of first aid, and the actions of our finalists prove that first aid really can be the difference between life and death.”

If you have been inspired to learn first aid, please visit: to find out more .

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