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