accessibility & help

Rose's story: take a break, save a life

A woman holds a man in a seated position on the ground with his knees upLayton Thompson/British Red Cross

Retail manager Rose Rye had to take a quick break from her busy duties in a British Red Cross shop – to rush outside and help save someone’s life.

Rose, who works at the British Red Cross shop at Poole in Dorset, has also been trained in first aid skills. Just as well, as it turns out. On 11 June 2009, it was just another bustling day behind the counter until things suddenly took a turn for the worse.

Rose recalled: “Someone ran into the shop saying an elderly gentleman had just collapsed on the high street outside and asked if we could help. The person actually said: ‘I thought you might know what to do, being the Red Cross’." 

‘I’m a first aider’

Without a second thought, Rose rushed outside to the casualty’s side. She said: “I had a sudden adrenaline rush and there was an inevitable moment of wondering, ‘What do I do?’. But then I heard myself saying: ‘Hello, can you hear me? I'm a first aider’ and I just got on with it."

The man, who was showing symptoms of a stroke, had fallen badly and hit his head so bystanders had placed him on a nearby bench. By the time Rose reached the scene, he was very confused and kept drifting in and out of consciousness.

Taking charge

Rose added: “The ambulance was on its way so I took charge, which wasn’t easy with a crowd milling and everyone wanting to chip in. I laid the casualty on the ground and put him in the recovery position with his airway open, and he was still alive when the ambulance crew arrived."

Looking back on the incident, Rose is thankful she was close by and able to put her first aid skills to such vital use. She said: “It is scary to be responsible for someone but so much better than just standing there, frightened and clueless.

Once it was all over, I did need a quiet corner and a coffee before getting back to work. But our retail volunteer – bless her – had just carried on running the shop.

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