John Newman, Community First Responder Programme Director from London

John Newman, 1950sLondon‘I Joined St John Ambulance in 1957 as a Cadet at the age of ten. I currently direct the SJA Community First Responder programme with London Ambulance Service which has 50 responder teams.

SJA has given me the opportunity to take on some fantastic roles including developing the Cardiac Units for SJA in London and the Designated Unit teams to operate with the Metropolitan Police unit that protects the Royal Family.

An amazing highlight was the introduction of defibrillation among our volunteers in London. This was pioneered by Dr Tom Evans, and I managed the project, which has led to some remarkable "saves".

As the SJA manager at Lord’s cricket ground, I observed on our control room CCTV screen a man collapse near one of the exit gates. We dispatched our nearby foot patrol team by radio and we watched on the screen as they got going with their automated external defibrillator and provided CPR. Our advanced life support ambulance took the man to hospital and returned to the ground.

We rarely learn if a patient has survived so imagine my elation when the NHQ fundraising manager walked up to my desk a few months later and asked me if I knew anything about an incident at Lord’s. He had a lovely letter and a cheque from a man whose life had been saved by an SJA team at Lord’s! It was an amazing feeling to read that letter knowing that the system we have in place for helping under such circumstances is so effective and the volunteers so well trained that they can save a life.’

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