Norwich’s Hobbycraft heroes help to save customer’s life after he collapsed on the shop floor

Hobbycraft staff Erica Simpson, Rowan Diaper and Nicole Hicks who helped to save man's life.
Photo by Simon Finlay. Hobbycraft staff Erica Simpson, Rowan Diaper and Nicole Hicks who helped to save man's life. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Monday, April 14, 2014
12:14 PM

It is not part of their everyday job but when a man collapsed on a Norwich shop floor and turned blue instinct took over two shop assistants who helped bring him back to life.

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Erica Simpson and Nicole Hicks work together at Hobbycraft, on Riverside Retail Park, but when they arrived for work on Thursday morning they did not expect the day to unfold with a dramatic rescue.

At around 11.30am, both of the women were busy helping customers when they saw a man collapsed to the floor at the front of the shop.

Ms Simpson, who has worked at the store since it opened in 2010, was at his side within 10 seconds and quickly noticed he was turning blue.

Without hesitation she began to do cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while a customer rang 999.

That helpful customer was Suzannah Lourenco, who works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), and between them the women continued to do CPR on the man while taking it in turns to speak to an emergency call handler, who was giving life-saving instructions.

Meanwhile Mrs Hicks, who has worked at the store since September 2013, was giving much needed support and comfort to the man’s wife.

Assistant manager, Rowan Diaper, was working the morning of the incident and explained that something like this had “never happened” in the store before.

The 27-year-old added: “It is not something you would ever expect to happen in a craft store but the one time it did the first aid training really paid off and the gentleman left us breathing of his own accord before he was put into an ambulance.

“If it was not for my two colleagues he would probably not be alive. I am proud of the team. Everyone pulled together.”

The shop, which was busy with shoppers taking advantage of the nice weather during the Easter holidays, was soon emptied with the help of police community support officers.

And within five minutes of the 999 call being made a paramedic arrived on scene, followed by an ambulance two minutes later. The shop was closed until 1.15pm.

Mr Diaper said: “They were working on him for quite a while. It’s nice to know their hard work paid off.”

He explained that the first aid training offered by Hobbycraft takes place over a three day course but added that no one ever really expects to use it.

“I don’t believe it’s something you expect to use.”

Ms Simpson, of White Horse Street, Wymondham, did her first aid training when she become a foster carer and said that it was the first time she had ever had to use it.

“The situation arose so unexpectedly and we immediately leapt into action,” she said. “It felt like four hours had passed in just a few minutes.

“There is such a need for people to learn first aid as it can be needed anytime, anywhere.”

Mrs Hicks, 39, of Gertrude Road, Norwich, previously worked in a care home and said she had seen things like this happen before but was still shocked.

She said: “I just helped to calm his wife down. It felt like a very surreal day. You see things like this all the time on the telly but you don’t expect it to happen to you.

“Erica and the customer did an amazing job.”

A spokesman from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust said: “We can’t emphasise enough the importance of starting cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, pushing hard and fast as soon as possible in the event of a cardiac arrest.

“We arrived five minutes after the call came in so he, the patient, was given every chance of survival and we want to wish him well.”

The man, thought to be in his seventies, is believed to be recovering at the N&N.

And although the women may not be really to take on the name “Hobbycraft heroes” just yet, they said they were happy to be able to help.

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