Checkout staff urge stroke awareness after 111 call saves elderly woman's life

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Three supermarket checkout staff who saved the life of an elderly woman having a stroke by calling 111, are urging other people to be aware of the signs and know when to act.

Seven Sharp was at Ruth Coulter's New Plymouth home for the first reunion between her and the three women who had recognised the signs of a stroke while she was shopping at her local Countdown.

Ruth Coulter might not be here if not for three staff in New Plymouth who recognised what was happening to her.
Source: Seven Sharp

"I just remember getting the groceries and I don't remember another thing," Mrs Coulter recalled. 

Catherine Richards, one of the checkout staff, said Mrs Coulter got more and more confused when she took a turn for the worse.

"And then also seeing, I guess, the fear in her eyes because we were asking her questions and she couldn't get the words out."

The stroke awareness TV advertisement that asked, "speech, is it jumbled slurred or lost?" was in the back of the women's minds.

They decided it was, as the ad said, "time to call 111" and so ensured Mrs Coulter got the crucial clot-busting thrombolysis treatment she needed, in time.

"If you think the person's having a stroke, do something about it," Ms Richards said.

"All it is is a phone call and you could potentially save that person's life. That's what happened to us. And you can't buy that feeling. It's like wow!"  

As for Mrs Coulter, after five days in hospital she's well on the mend with no serious lasting effects, very thankful to her heroes and preparing for her 82nd birthday on Friday.

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