A 7-year-old girl has been credited for saving her mum’s life by talking to 999 control room staff as her mum had a severe asthma attack behind the wheel of her car on a dual carriageway.
Katherine Holifield and daughter Isla were driving on the A449 in Monmouthshire when Katherine – who has brittle asthma – began struggling to breathe at the wheel of her Toyota Yaris.
The 37-year-old pulled into a layby and called 999.
Katherine was physically unable to speak through heavy wheezing, and the call handler could not locate the pair.
The Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) used the free what3words app to pinpoint their location and organise help.
As Katherine’s breathing worsened, Isla took over the call and calmly directed the ambulance service to her mum by telling the call handler to look out for a red car with a kayak on the roof.
“We’d spent the day kayaking in Monmouth with friends.
“I felt a bit tight-chested when we got off the water but just put it down to the fact we’d been doing quite a bit of strenuous activity.
“We’d started to make the journey home but I wasn’t getting any better, I was getting worse.
“Recognising it was an asthma attack, I pulled into a layby and got my nebuliser out to try and help.
“I’ve had brittle asthma since I was a month-old and have managed it by entire life with inhalers and nebulisers, but this one was especially bad.
“In the end, I couldn’t speak at all, and Isla said: ‘Mummy, is this when I need to call 999?”
Call handler Madison Vickery, who is based in the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthenshire, said:
“I could tell straight away that Katherine was really struggling to breathe.
“She was physically unable to describe their location, so I sent her a text message containing a link to the what3words website so we could try and find them.
“The three words – ‘configure, audio, plodding’ – put them on the A449 just outside Llandenny in Monmouthshire, so we were then able to organise help.
“Isla was so lovely and hugely helpful in answering the questions and passing on information.
“You could tell that she was worried about mum, so I was trying to chat to her about other things to keep her mind pre-occupied.”
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