Freda Devon’s quick thinking saved the life of a taxi driver who suffered a heart attack in front of his daughter and two grandchildren.
Now Freda, of Cornelia Street, Motherwell, wants to highlight the heartwarming story in the hope that more people will have the confidence to take action in a life or death situation.
James Wolloshin, also from Motherwell, had suffered cardiac arrest brought on by a blood clot and was in a coma for several days. But he made a remarkable recovery and was allowed home from hospital on Friday, almost three weeks after his near-death experience.
The drama happened in The Loaning, Motherwell, and Freda came on the scene as she was driving home.
She said: “I saw James’s car had crashed into a fence. There were about 20 people around it and I stopped only because I heard Mr Wolloshin’s daughter Claire screaming for help, saying her dad had taken a heart attack.
“People were saying they didn’t know what to do. I got first aid training 15 years ago and all I remembered was you have to get oxygen to the casualty’s brain.
“Somebody was on the phone to the ambulance service. I took the phone and started compressing James’s chest. I couldn’t remember how to do it and was worried I had cracked his ribs, but the ambulance operator said I was doing the right thing.”
Freda was convinced James (60) was dead as he was not responding and his face was grey, but she continued working on him until paramedics arrived and took over. They took him into an ambulance and a short time later had good news.
She said: “I got a feeling of euphoria when the back door of the ambulance opened and a paramedic gave the thumbs-up. I burst out crying and fell to my knees.”
Freda established from James’s daughter that the family had a history of blood clots. That information helped doctors when James arrived at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride.
Although he remained seriously ill, James’s condition improved over the next two weeks. Freda visited him in hospital and was delighed to find him up and about.
His grateful family are in no doubt that her prompt actions saved his life, but modest Freda said: “I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to save a life. But I can’t get over the fact that 20 people were at the scene and none of them knew what to do.
“It’s all right to be scared in such a situation - I was. The ambulance operator on the other end of the phone will take you through every step. What’s the worst you can do? It can’t be worse than taking no acton at all.”
An ambulance spokesman said: “Every second counts with cardiac arrest and this lady did exactly the right thing. She helped save the patient’s life. The immediate 999 call let our staff give the appropriate instructions straight away.”