Dame Helen Mirren has been announced as patron of a charity supporting volunteer lifesavers in the capital.
The Hollywood A-lister visited London Ambulance Service headquarters in Waterloo last week to meet the people behind the Voluntary Responder Group and learn how to save a life.
The charity offers financial support to people responding to patients in London alongside a traditional 999 ambulance response.
The actress became involved in the charity after one her friends Chris Worwood, 40, was resuscitated from a cardiac arrest at the premiere of her film The Debt in Mayfair last year.
Volunteer Alan ‘Al’ Moore, a police constable with the Met, began cardiopulmonary resuscitation while a public-access defibrillator that had been placed by the London Ambulance Service at a nearby underground station was brought. The defibrillator was used to shock Mr Worwood’s heart while the ambulance was on the way.
Dame Helen, 66, said: “It’s very simple. These people saved my friend’s life. In 10 or 15 minutes, he would have been dead if he had not had the fortune of Al being there. I just want more people to have this fortune.”
First Responders Manager Chris Hartley-Sharpe said: “We already reach a majority of patients quickly, but for those whose heart has stopped beating getting lifesaving care to them immediately will give them the best chance of survival. All volunteer responders are trained to use a defibrillator, a device that can restart a patient’s heart by delivering an electric shock. Getting a defibrillator to someone in cardiac arrest gives them the best chance of survival.”
The London Ambulance Voluntary Responder Group is a registered charity offering financial support to three ongoing areas of work:
- Emergency responders – clinically-trained volunteers responding on blue lights alongside ambulances to 999 calls
- Community first responders – defibrillator-trained St John Ambulance volunteers attending on call from their homes and responding to 999 calls in their own car without blue lights alongside ambulances
- Public-access defibrillator sites – people who work at these locations trained to use a defibrillator and respond to emergencies while an ambulance is on the way.