St John staff thanked for saving woman

Ann and John Allen (centre) say thank you to the St John staff who saved her life (from left) emergency medical technician Kirstie Mann, paramedic Philippa Henry, intensive care paramedic Pete Walker and paramedic Scott Weatherall. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Ann and John Allen (centre) say thank you to the St John staff who saved her life (from left) emergency medical technician Kirstie Mann, paramedic Philippa Henry, intensive care paramedic Pete Walker and paramedic Scott Weatherall. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Ann Allen knew she was in trouble when she started choking on a piece of meat.

She could not breathe or talk and having taken a first-aid course she knew she was in serious trouble.

"I remember thinking I didn't want to die yet."

Staff at the social event she and husband John were attending last month rallied around, emergency services were called and people tried the Heimlich manoeuvre without success.

"At that stage, I thought Ann was going to die there on the floor," Mr Allen said, recalling the incident.

St John intensive care paramedic Pete Walker and paramedic Scott Weatherall were first on the scene, closely followed by paramedic Philippa Henry and emergency medical technician Kirstie Mann.

While Mrs Allen (64) was able to communicate with Mr Walker at first, her airway became fully obstructed and her colour was terrible, he said.

"You kept us on our toes for a minute or two."

They dislodged the piece of meat from her throat and took her to Dunedin Hospital where she stayed until the next day.

The experience had shaken both Mr and Mrs Allen and last week they thanked the St John staff personally for saving her life.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. The hospital was full of praise for your work," Mrs Allen told the crews.

"It's a lesson to always chew your food properly."

Mr Weatherall said the people who helped before St John staff arrived "did good stuff" and without their efforts the outcome could have been different.

As a result of the incident the couple's family came together for a holiday and the would celebrate their upcoming 42nd wedding anniversary by renewing their vows.

"I could have been looking at a horrible existence," Mr Allen said.

While people might take the service St John provided for granted, their work touched so many lives, Mrs Allen said.

-rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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