A RETIRED nurse came to the aid of an elderly lady who collapsed in a Houghton cafe, struggling for breath in front of horrified customers and staff.
Despite leaving the profession almost eight years ago, Helen Cowan, 67, sprang into action when the woman in her 70s stumbled inside the Peppercorn Coffee Shop yesterday morning.
Mrs Cowan, a former registered general nurse, spotted the lady looking unwell at about 9.30am, as she walked into the cafe, in Newbottle Street.
She recognised the lady as a regular at the coffee shop, which has been run by Michael and Carol McGlinchley for 18 years.
“I went into the coffee shop to borrow an ashtray because it’s like a second home,” Mrs Cowan, from Houghton, said.
“The lady walked in and she stumbled.
“I know her because she has been coming in for years and I knew she didn’t have any heart problems at the time.
“I knew straightaway she had nothing wrong with her to make her stumble, and there was something odd.
“I went straight over and she was pale and cold and clammy.
“My priority was to stop her falling and hurting herself, so I sat her down and carefully took her coat off because she was sweating. I got her a drink of water.
“I shouted over to Michael and Carole to call an ambulance and took her into the loo for privacy. Her breathing was laboured, but she was conscious.”
Mrs McGlinchley said: “I knew this lady was having a heart attack. It was horrendous, she was really poorly.”
The lady was taken to the cardiology unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where the Echo understands she is doing well.
“Obviously my nurse training came back to me and I’m just so pleased I was there,” Mrs Cowan added.
Concerns were raised regarding the response time for the ambulance, however, a spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said the log confirmed they received a call at 9.49am and that the ambulance arrived on scene at 9.57am, meeting the eight-minute target of a red category two call.