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Mayor’s Ambassador army given lifesaving training for 2012 Games duty

A thousand volunteers from Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s Team London Ambassadors are being trained how to save a life as London prepares for an influx of visitors during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The first groups have now completed their training which includes how to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use a defibrillator.

The volunteer Team London Ambassadors are being taught the lifesaving techniques under a scheme developed by NHS London and the London Ambulance Service, supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The aim is to be able to give immediate and vital emergency care while an ambulance is on the way.

The Ambassadors are learning ‘Heartstart’ – a two-hour lifesaving skills course devised by the BHF, which is also providing the training equipment.

And as part of the health legacy of the Olympics, London Ambulance Service paramedics will also teach around 50 Ambassadors how to deliver the two-hour Heartstart session themselves.

As well as teaching their peers ahead of the opening ceremony, these 50 volunteers will continue to teach the Heartstart course in their local communities after the Games as part of London’s health legacy.

Volunteers will also be taught how to use a defibrillator, a machine that can restart the heart by delivering an electric shock.

There are around 750 public-access defibrillators placed in busy areas in the capital, such as tourist attractions, shopping centres and transport links, with staff who work there trained to use them in an emergency.

London Ambulance Service First Responders Manager Chris Hartley-Sharpe said: “When someone suffers a cardiac arrest they need three things to have the best chance of survival: someone to call 999 for an ambulance straight away, someone to begin CPR straight away and someone to get a defibrillator to them as quickly as possible.

“By training 1,000 Ambassadors with these simple lifesaving skills, as well as training 50 to train more people after the Games, we are giving visitors to the capital this summer and Londoners the best chance of survival if they suffer a cardiac arrest.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Team London Ambassadors will provide a highly-visible network of support throughout the Games, guiding people around the capital, giving advice and helping out in any way they can. That so many of them now have this potentially life-saving knowledge is fantastic, adding another string to their bow and providing a great health legacy for the capital.”

NHS London Regional Director of Public Health Dr Simon Tanner said: “These Heartstart courses for Team London Ambassadors are just the first of many.

“While the benefits will be available during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the training given on these courses will also provide a lasting legacy.

“NHS London is proud to have brought together colleagues from London Ambulance Service and the British Heart Foundation to ensure the London Ambassadors can help keep people safer during the Games.

“Heartstart courses will, of course, be continuing after the Games and I would encourage everyone to consider signing up for one.”

British Heart Foundation Director of Prevention and Care Catherine Kelly said: “Knowing how to save a life is the best skill you can have. Of course, we hope our Heartstart programme is something the ambassadors never actually need to put into practice but it’s hugely reassuring for the public to know there will be trained volunteers on the street who know what to do in an emergency.

“The fact 50 of them will train other people in their local communities after the Games is a fantastic legacy for London’s health.”

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Notes to editors: