By Christian Oliver, Local Democracy Reporter
A former nurse is staging free first aid training for young people after a teenager tragically died after being stabbed outside her flat.
Susan Patterson, 58, has so far organised two free one-hour training sessions to teach people how to prevent bleeding and provide potentially lifesaving first aid.
The sessions follow the death of Donnell Rhule on the Kingswood Estate, West Dulwich, in July 2020 – two cousins, Kieran and Sean Robinson were in December convicted of stabbing him to death.
With training delivered by the charity Street Doctors, the latest of the first aid sessions on February 5 was less than a mile away at Christ Church in Gypsy Hill.
During the first lockdown in 2020, Ms Patterson said she realised there was a desperate need to offer this training after Donnell was stabbed outside her flat.
“I started going to the tree where the young man died and was tending to the plants,” she said.
“I heard his friends talking and they said that ‘the thing to do when somebody is stabbed is to put them in the back of a car and drive them to A&E’. As a former nurse, I thought ‘no – the thing to do is put pressure on the wound and wait for an ambulance’.
“That made me think about what I can do. And I started looking for first aid courses, and I couldn’t find any. Then a year later, I was in a meeting and Street Doctors were there presenting their work, and I thought ‘this is it’.”
Ms Patterson, now a licensed lay minister at St Stephen’s in South Dulwich, then approached the Southwark Diocese for funding to run courses with the help of Street Doctors.
She added: “I’ve done two [courses] now, another church has done one, and more and more churches are showing interest which is great.”
In 2021, more teenagers were killed in London than in any other year since records began.
Knife crime contributed to 27 of the 30 recorded teenage homicides last year.
Street Doctors was originally founded in Liverpool in 2008, and now provide this essential training for young people across the country.
Attendees of the course learn how to reduce a stabbing victim’s bleeding in the crucial moments before an ambulance arrives.
Helen Berresford, a trustee of Street Doctors said: “We’re a charity committed to empowering young people and giving them skills to be able to prevent and reduce the impacts of violence.
We have a movement of health care volunteers. They’re trainee nurses, doctors, paramedics who volunteer for us. They go out and run sessions for young people at risk of violence and give them the information about the impact of violence but also teach them lifesaving skills so that if they’re ever in that situation, they can actually help.”
Ms Patterson is hoping to organise more of these sessions with the help of Street Doctors in the future.
“I see it as my role to tell people about this and what a difference it can make for young people to empower them to be able to do this,” she said.
Kieran Robinson, 22, of Baldry Gardens, Streatham, and Sean Robinson, 27, of Newlands Park, Penge, were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday, December 2.
They had chased Donnell down on a moped. He collapsed on a nearby patch of grass. Members of the public provided first aid until the arrival of emergency services.
Pictured: Line-up of three women: from left to right: Dorothea Stathaki, Street Doctors volunteer; Susan Patterson, organiser; India Wardle, Street Doctors volunteer.