Wednesday 20 March 2019

'He was non-responsive' - Irish woman hailed as hero after saving life of London terror victim

Joanne Saunsbury resuscitated a dying man on Westminster Bridge

Joanne Saunsbury said she
Joanne Saunsbury said she "doesn't feel like a hero"
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

An Irish woman who rushed to the aid of a dying man during the London terrorist attack has described the chaotic scenes that unfolded on Wednesday.

Wexford woman Joanne Saunsbury (34) had been working on a tour bus travelling across Westminster Bridge when terror struck.

A man, who was lying unconscious on the ground after Khalid Masood (52) ploughed his vehicle into pedestrians, required urgent medical attention.

Joanne managed to resuscitate him due to her quick thinking and bravery.

"One person there wasn’t moving. He was non-responsive and I was trying to get him to breathe and to get his heart beating, so I was doing CPR," she told South East Radio's Morning Mix show.

"The person I was helping was severely wounded... It was just horrific, there was blood and there were people lying in pools of blood.

The carnage at the scene. Photo: REUTERS
The carnage at the scene. Photo: REUTERS

"I was doing CPR until the paramedics came. I learned CPR from my training with the Order of Malta in Wexford.

Joanne, who lives in London and works as a tour guide, feared he was going to die when she couldn't find a pulse.

"I didn’t get his name or anything about him, but he was so badly injured and I couldn’t find a pulse...but where there’s life there’s hope."

Describing the chaotic scenes, she said: "[There was] aeroplanes, the armed response unit, armed was just a nightmare. I was expecting someone to come out and shout ‘cut’ and everyone to get up, because it was like something out of an action film or a horror film.

"There were people down and it was a cry of first-aiders, so I was down the stairs and off the bus so fast I actually didn’t think, I wasn’t thinking of my own safety, I wasn’t thinking of anything else."

She said she has been offered counselling after the incident.

"At the time you get a surge of adrenaline. I was just doing as I could, I don’t think it’s enough...I mean the death count was five people dead and the person I was helping was severely wounded. I just keep wondering if I was able to do enough.

"There’s always this thing of ‘if I was there three minutes, two minutes, 30 seconds earlier what more I could have done?’

"I was looking the other way so I didn’t actually see the impact, but a car ploughed through people on the road and then ploughed through pedestrians."

"We were just doing the tour as normal and then there was an absolute flash and there was five people down that you could see and then there was two others that had been knocked down Westminster Pier steps," she added.

Like many Irish people based in London, she said she has been inundated with messages from friends and family back home.

"I came home to 41 messages from people wondering if I was OK. When people heard I was on Westminster Bridge I got so much support, the thing is I don’t feel like a hero."

On Thursday it emerged that an Irish person was among the injured following the terrorist attack.

Her injuries were described as not life-threatening.

A total of five people have now died following the attack - including the attacker and a police officer who was stabbed.

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