Residents of Meath Court in Acton are calling for greater security after a woman plummeted from the top floor of one of the housing block’s walkways, suffering “major” injuries. Two witnesses, both living in the shipping container estate, ended up giving the severely injured woman emergency CPR, taking it in turns to give her chest compressions until ambulance crews arrived.
In videos shown to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), the two residents can be seen making what was potentially a life-saving intervention by ensuring the woman, who fell four storeys onto the tarmac below, continued breathing until paramedics made it to the estate.
A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said at the time: “We were called at 4.13pm on September 6 to reports of an incident on Hope Gardens, Acton.
“We sent multiple resources to the scene, including an ambulance crew, an advanced paramedic, an incident response officer, a clinical team manager and members of our tactical response unit. We treated a patient at the scene before taking them to a major trauma centre as a priority.”
Since then, police have confirmed a 44-year-old woman was taken to hospital with head injuries. After four weeks, she remains in hospital where her condition is serious but stable.
However, what has not been confirmed is how the incident happened, with the police saying “enquiries are ongoing to establish how the woman came to be injured.”
One of the residents who rushed to help said: “We had to call an ambulance and they asked us to do CPR because [her breathing] was going.”
The resident was in a state of shock, recording the events that almost needed to be seen to be believed. The lack of CCTV in Meath Court means that for many residents documenting the insane occurrences they are faced with every day has become second nature.
However, the need to document the incident did not affect the urgency of her reaction. She says she barely got dressed before going to help the woman.
She said: “I came out half naked. She was not responding, her breathing was going and you could see the bump on her head, it was bleeding.”
She added: “We don’t know how it happened. The police were trying to measure from the top [of the block] to the down how she got there. If she was pushed or had a seizure and fell or whatever it is.”
Despite their heroics, residents were left deeply disturbed and frustrated by the incident. In particular, with the housing manager who they allege left without trying to help. Ealing Council denies this, stating the council officer was stopped from entering by police dealing with the incident.
The mum-of-three who helped to give CPR has had very little support subsequent to what happened, she finds it hard to fully express the impact it had on her. She said: “My children saw that, they were terrified. I was shaking doing CPR over somebody I considered was [dying].
Swalhana Islam was the first person to call 999 and told LDRS that she had exchanged a few words with the woman around 30 minutes before the incident. She said: “About 3.45pm I saw her lying there and no one was calling an ambulance, so I ran inside got my phone and called 999.
“I checked her breathing and I could tell it was false breathing, I could see her airway was blocked.” Ms Islam says that the emergency call handler began giving her instructions on how to save the woman’s life.
She added: “She told me to put her straight, I put her straight and started doing CPR. After 10-15 minutes I got tired and a neighbour took over and then the ambulance came and they took over from there.”
The horrific scene has really brought home to Ms Islam the lack of safety provisions on the estate. She said: “If we had CCTV they could easily solve the case. We had police here from 4pm until midnight wandering around, closing the area. Kids keep asking what is going on and we have no answer. So we are trapped.
“We need to be safe, CCTV could help, we need to be protected and we don’t feel that. We feel trapped in here and we just follow whatever Ealing Council tell us what to do.” Meath Court, which is built for 288 people to live there many of whom are currently women and children, has been labelled ‘dangerous’ and ‘hell’ by residents.
The incident earlier this month has only reinforced residents’ belief that the whole building project is deeply unsafe and not fit for purpose.
An Ealing Council spokesman said: “One of our officers attended Meath Court late in the afternoon on 6 September. The site was cordoned off and the officer was stopped from entering by the police, because the emergency services were dealing with an injured person who required help. The person was not a Meath Court resident, and a police investigation into the incident is under way.
“Our best wishes for a swift recovery go to the person who was injured. We know this was an upsetting incident for residents who were affected, and the same council officer visited residents the next day to offer support.
“There are CCTV cameras on the streets surrounding the block but none within Meath Court. We remain committed to decommissioning Meath Court and re-providing higher quality temporary accommodation. However, this cannot happen immediately as we are facing an unprecedented rise in the number of households who are in urgent need of support with their housing. In the meantime, the council is considering options for the future of CCTV in the block.”