Two young brothers who volunteer with St John Ambulance have been hailed as heroes after they used their first aid skills to help their mum in a medical emergency.
Debbie Murphy, 34, is full of admiration and praise for 10-year-old Rhys and nine-year-old Owen for the way in which they coolly and confidently took charge of the situation when she collapsed unconscious at home in Hanwell.
The mum-of-three, who gave birth to baby Max in April, developed a heart condition during her pregnancy and had a cardiac monitor implanted in her chest. She is currently under the care of a cardiologist at Ealing Hospital.
On June 20, Debbie suffered her most serious collapse while at home with the boys.
She said: “My heart was racing and it felt like I was having a panic attack. I was going to call for help but then I was on the floor, not knowing what was going on.”
Owen told his older brother to dial 999 while he rushed next door to get some adult help. Their mum was unconscious and lying on her side, but the ambulance control operator instructed him to lay her on her back and lift her neck to open her airway.
Debbie said: “The adults in the room were telling him to leave me as I was but Rhys was very strong and insisted on doing exactly what the ambulance operator told him to do.
"Both boys have practised handling 999 calls as part of their St John Ambulance training so they know how to follow instructions over the phone.
"When the paramedics arrived, the boys gave them a detailed account of what had happened. I dread to think what could have happened if I’d been on my own with the baby. I’m just so proud of them.”
Gerard Murray, emergency operations centre manager for the London Ambulance Service, congratulated Rhys and Owen on a "remarkable job".
He added: “The boys knew to call for an ambulance as soon as possible after their mum collapsed. They listened to the call-taker’s questions and followed his instructions, making it easier for the paramedic who responded to start treating their mum. Rhys and Owen are a credit to St John Ambulance.”
The boys are pupils at Oaklands Primary School, in Hanwell, and joined St John Ambulance as Badgers four years ago.
Rhys became a cadet with the St John Ambulance Ealing unit in January and Owen is about to become a Super Badger – an award given to young first aiders who successfully complete 12 activities.
Mark Watson, the emergency medical dispatcher who answered the boys’ 999 call, said: “I remember how calm Rhys was and how well he listened to my instructions even when there was a lot of noise in the room.
"I told Rhys his mum would be really proud of how calm and focused he was and I’m really glad to hear that she is feeling better.”
London St John Ambulance youth manager Kevin Munday told getwestlondon: “Our youngest volunteers learn how to save a life from the age of five and we believe it’s one of the most important lessons they’ll ever learn.”