Off-duty volunteer saves neighbour's life

Joanne St John Uniform.jpg

Joanne Rogers, an off-duty volunteer, gave her neighbour the ultimate gift this Christmas - saving their life.

Joanne who is also an Urgent Care Assistant with the Welsh Ambulance Service, was getting ready to see a friend when she heard shouting from next door.

Joanne and her husband Chris, from Broadmoor, are close to neighbours Marlene,66, and Graham, 51, and knew something was wrong.

“I asked Chris to go round to check on them and I never imagined he’d come back and say what he did,” 


Marlene had collapsed.

Joanne rushed to the house and saw Marlene wasn’t breathing. She knew she needed to act fast and started giving Marlene CPR.

Chris, called for an ambulance and raced to get their nearest defibrillator located at their local bus stop. 

“It all happened so quickly - I was making myself a flask of tea to take with me to work and when I went back, I could see something was really wrong.

I called for Jo because I knew she was trained in first aid and might be able to help.”


Within three minutes, Chris arrived with the defibrillator which was then attached to Marlene and gave her heart two lifesaving shocks.

Just minutes later, a nearby paramedic was on the scene and helped Joanne give Marlene a breathing tube. Shortly after, Marlene began breathing for herself.

The Welsh Ambulance Service then arrived and took over Marlene’s care where she was rushed to Withybush Hospital and later transferred to Morriston hospital where she underwent emergency surgery and was fitted with a pacemaker.

Marlene is now recovering at home.

“We’re so lucky Jo was at home that evening. She was so calm and reassuring. She knew exactly what to do.

I really can’t imagine what would have happened if she hadn't been there. We’d really have been lost without her.”


Joanne was inspired to help others after it was suggested to her by a nurse looking after her father when he became ill 15 years ago.

Joanne started volunteering with us three years ago and she continues to support her local community in Broadmoor.

Since then, Jo says her confidence has grown and left her job in hospitality to work as part of our healthcare services, later joining the Welsh Ambulance Service as an Urgent Care Attendant.

“Jo’s courage to step in and take the lead in this emergency situation ensured Marlene was given the ultimate gift this Christmas, the gift of life.

Early defibrillation is key part of the chain of survival and Jo and Marlene’s story is testament to this.

Were delighted Marlene is now safe and at home with her family just in time for Christmas.” 

St John Ambulance Cymru, Director of Operations, James Shaughnessy

 “Marlene’s survival is testament to Joanne’s skill and quick-thinking intervention and we’re very proud of how she handled the situation.
Every second counts in a cardiac arrest, and Marlene’s story demonstrates the importance of early CPR and defibrillation.
We’re thrilled that Marlene is on the road to recovery and wish her all the very best.”

Welsh Ambulance Service's Operations Manager, Hywel Dda University Health Board area, Rob Jeffery

Jo’s bravery will be recognised next year when she’s presented with a ‘Priory Life Saving Commendation’ at our annual Investiture Service, next June.

If you're inspired by Jo's story and want to know more about first aid training in your area click here.

Published December 22nd 2020

Looking for other ways to get involved?

Whatever you enjoy doing and however much time you can commit, there’s a volunteer role for you.

Donate Volunteer