Heroic Portsmouth doorwoman praised for saving man’s life

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A DOORWOMAN has been hailed a hero after her quick-thinking and first aid skills helped to save the life of a critically-ill man.

AJ Ashmore was on duty at the Hampshire Boulevard bar, in St Paul’s Road, Portsmouth, when a passer-by collapsed close to the club after a cardiac arrest.

AJ Ashmore, front, who gave CPR to a critically-ill man for five minutes. She is pictured with Pete Brake, director of SNS security and Olly Grant, rear. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

AJ Ashmore, front, who gave CPR to a critically-ill man for five minutes. She is pictured with Pete Brake, director of SNS security and Olly Grant, rear. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

With panicked shouts that the man wasn’t breathing, 31-year-old AJ sprang into action, sprinting to the stricken gent.

Noticing he wasn’t breathing, AJ’s first aid skills kicked in and she began giving life-saving CPR – a reaction which helped bring the man back from death and has since been praised by the ambulance service and health charities.

AJ said: ‘I was on the door at Hampshire Boulevard when a gentleman came down and said someone had collapsed just up the road and he needed some help.

‘Being first aid-trained, I went up to see if I could help. There was a gentleman on the floor half in the recovery position. I checked his vitals and couldn’t find a pulse.

‘I rolled him over and commenced CPR.

‘My training just kicked in and everything else went out the window.

‘He wasn’t breathing; I knew CPR – I had a job to do.’

A team from the North Harbour Community First Responders (CFR) arrived at the scene within a couple of minutes and began preparing equipment to help the man.

Then, three minutes later, paramedics arrived and took over the treatment, using a defibrillator and life-saving drugs to save the stricken pedestrian’s life while AJ comforted his distressed wife.

Jonathan Nel, co-ordinator of the North Harbour CFR team, praised the actions of AJ in a letter to her the following day.

Speaking to The News, the volunteer first responder – who is also a door supervisor – said: ‘Her actions were critical in saving the man’s life.

‘The CPR that was being given was textbook. The way they were acting was so professional – it was excellent, I couldn’t fault it.’

He added: ‘I know being a doorman can be a thankless job sometimes. I am a door supervisor myself. We don’t always get the praise when praise is due.’

AJ said she was overwhelmed by the thanks for her actions.

‘I felt very, very relieved and happy,’ she said. ‘It was a great feeling.’

She said she wouldn’t hesitate to use her first aid skills again to save a life, adding: ‘We work in a job where while most people are running away from stuff we run towards it.

‘It can be a thankless job sometimes. No-one ever says “thank you for helping out”. Everyone sees us as bullies. That’s not the case. We’re there to help.

‘It’s nice to know that people are thankful.’

Since the incident, AJ’s boss, Pete Brake – who is the director of SNS Security – said he would be investing more cash into giving improved first aid training to his 30 staff in the city.

‘You never know what’s going to happen,’ the 36-year-old, of Portsmouth, said. ‘No-one ever knows when or if they’re going to have a heart attack or cardiac arrest. It just comes on.

‘I’d like to know there’s someone around that could help if it ever happened to me.’

St John Ambulance, which offers first aid training, praised AJ. A spokeswoman said: ‘It’s fantastic to hear this story – well done to all involved. AJ had the skills to save a life, and most importantly, she had the confidence to act.

‘First aid is so simple to learn, but it can have an incredible impact, as this story shows. This man is alive thanks to her efforts and shows why everyone should learn first aid. You never know when you may need it – to help a friend, a family member, or a stranger.’

The incident took place on March 24. The unnamed man, believed to be in his 50s, was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital for follow-up treatment.

For first aid advice, see sja.org.uk