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Shop manager saved the life of choking colleague

PUBLISHED: 16:06 15 September 2018

Astrid Ratcliff, left, hugs Claire Griffiths, Red Cross Shop manager at Wymondham, after Claire saved her life when Astrid choked on a sweet. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Astrid Ratcliff, left, hugs Claire Griffiths, Red Cross Shop manager at Wymondham, after Claire saved her life when Astrid choked on a sweet. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A quick thinking charity shop manager has recalled how she saved the life of a colleague who begun choking after a sweet got stuck in her throat.

Part-time shop volunteer Astrid Ratcliff began struggling to breathe while she was working in a back room at the Red Cross shop in Wymondham.

Claire Griffiths, who runs the shop, rushed to her aid after being alerted by assistant manager Angela Stevenson that Astrid, who is deaf, was in distress.

Mrs Griffiths said: “I was talking to a customer and it was Angie who became aware and assessed the situation and realised Astrid was choking. She wasn’t making any noise and we rushed to help her.

The Red Cross Shop at Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Red Cross Shop at Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I did back blows but if it hadn’t come up with that then I would have had to consider using abdominal thrusts, what used to be called Heimlich manoeuvre.

“If it hadn’t come up, Angie would have straight away phoned and ambulance while I carried on. Because when you’ve done the stomach thrusts, the person really needed to be seen by a doctor because you can rupture someone’s spleen.

“She was quite silent and very shaken up. We had to sit her down for a while. She had been really scared because she had been able to communicate to say what was going on and she just couldn’t breathe.”

Astrid Ratcliff, left, hugs Claire Griffiths, Red Cross Shop manager at Wymondham, after Claire saved her life when Astrid choked on a sweet. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAstrid Ratcliff, left, hugs Claire Griffiths, Red Cross Shop manager at Wymondham, after Claire saved her life when Astrid choked on a sweet. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Astrid said she had been standing at the sink in the shop kitchen when she swallowed the sweet and became unable to breathe.

“I didn’t know how it had happened so fast and I got more worried because I could get my breath,” she said.

“I am grateful that Claire knew what to do. I remember her hitting my back several times and quite hard, then the sweet shot out of my throat, although I didn’t realise it was hard until afterward and I was glad to be able to breathe again.”

Both women are now urging more people to get first aid training. Research by the British Red Cross has found just 6% of people in the East of England know the correct skills and are confident to use them.

Astrid said: “I would definately urge as many people as possible to do the first aid training, so they can help others in a similar situation.

“It is important to know what to do as I was lucky Claire was there because she saved my life. It is very scary not to be able to breathe and worry about what I should do at that moment as I couldn’t swallow or shift the sweet in my mouth.”

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