When United Living’s Resident Liaison Officer Vanessa Welch turned up for work on 22nd February, little did she anticipate the drama that was about to unfold that day and how her actions would help to save someone’s life.
Vanessa was on a routine visit to see Bassetlaw District Council Housing Tenant Amanda Sheehan who was having a new accessible kitchen designed as part of improvement work that United Living carry out on behalf of the Council. But when she knocked on the door and found Amanda slumped in her wheelchair struggling to breath, instinct kicked in and Vanessa’s swift actions meant that Amanda is still here to tell the tale.
Amanda, who lives in Costhorpe, near Worksop, suffers from a severe form of asthma and was having an asthma attack. She had been waiting around 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and luckily Vanessa walked through the door at just the right time.
“When I have an asthma attack, I can go into respiratory arrest and then cardiac arrest quite quickly,” said Amanda. “So, it’s a matter of time and I’d already pushed my limits and gone longer than I ever had without medical attention. I couldn’t keep myself upright enough to keep my airway open and I couldn’t get my nebuliser on because it kept falling off my face.
“Even though I was on the phone to my Asthma Nurse, all that was going through my head was, ‘I’m going to pass out and there’s no-one here. If I pass out, I’m going to stop breathing and there’s nothing I can do.”
When Vanessa knocked on the door and there was no answer, something told her not to walk away. She said: “I felt that Amanda was in and then I saw someone moving inside, so I decided to open the door. It was a shock when I first saw what was happening and the look on my face must have been just; ’Oh my God!’
“I asked ‘what can I do, what can I do?’ I wasn’t expecting anything like that and I thought, I’ve got to do something here, I’ve got to react. So I spoke to the Asthma Nurse, kept Amanda upright so that she wasn’t slumping so much, helped her with her medication, made sure she remained conscious and reassured her that the ambulance would be there at any time.”
Amanda is convinced that Vanessa’s actions saved her life, and said: “When I saw Vanessa, I just knew I was going to be OK. It was a weird feeling, because before that I actually thought I was going to die. Just seeing someone was a massive relief.
“I remember Vanessa saying to me, ‘point to what you need’. The vile that contains my nebuliser solution is really fiddly and you’ve got to squirt it into the machine, but because I was losing control of my hands, I couldn’t do it and the liquid was going everywhere.
“I gave it to Vanessa and gestured to her what needed to happen. She made sure that I had back to back nebs until the ambulance arrived and the paramedics took over. When I was taken into the ambulance, I’ve been told that I went into full respiratory arrest and they couldn’t find my pulse, the machines just flat-lined twice.
“The ambulance crew said that they didn’t know who Vanessa was, but that she was amazing,” added Amanda. “I just can’t thank her enough, my family can’t thank her enough, because she really saved my life.”
A few weeks later, Vanessa has come to terms with how serious a situation she walked into, but says that she reacted in the same way that anyone else would.
“I feel that I did what any caring person would have done. I couldn’t have walked away and left Amanda in that state, so I did what I could, and I’m thankful that she’s here and she thinks I did OK.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that. I’m not medically trained and I’ve never been that confident when I’ve been on First Aid courses, because you have to rely on yourself to be able to react to a situation, and I’ve always questioned myself about that.
“You always ask yourself in those situations, could I have done more? It’s only now, after hearing from the asthma nurse who I was on the phone to, I’ve learnt how serious things could have been if I hadn’t walked through the door at that moment.”
As a small way of saying thank you, Amanda and the Team at United Living, including Bassetlaw District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Steve Scotthorne, presented a bouquet of flowers to Vanessa.
Cllr Scotthorne, said: “Vanessa showed a great amount of professional conduct in the way she reacted to the situation and assisted in the care of Amanda. We are all extremely relieved that the outcome was a happy one and this is a chance to show our gratitude to Vanessa. It’s also important to recognise the great job that all of United Living and the Council’s Resident Liaison Officers do for our tenants.”
Mick Holling, Operations Director at United Living, said: “Vanessa’s response to the situation when she was just going about her normal daily duties was truly lifesaving, and she should be very proud.
“I would like to say on behalf of United Living just how proud we are of Vanessa and thank her for the way she represents our business, not just on that day, but every day she is out in the community.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, April 24, 2019