Rachel Rose had only received basic life support training just weeks before her cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills were dramatically put to the test, said the North East university.
“All the training had told us to keep going, so that’s what I did”
While holidaying in Alcudia, Majorca, she found herself at the centre of an emergency when five-year-old Kylie Ann Stewart who has a long-term condition became unconsciousness in a hotel.
Ms Rose, 37, who is studying adult nursing and has been on placement at the University Hospital of North Tees, said: “I didn’t think, I just knew I had to do something.
“I felt for her pulse but there was nothing there; there was no breath either and her chest wasn’t moving,” she said. “I knew I had to start CPR straight away, my mind was racing, all I could think about was how young she was.
“For four minutes I kept going but there was nothing, no signs of life at all. But all the training had told us to keep going, so that’s what I did,” said Ms Rose.
“Then, in the fifth minute she came round, she was just about breathing, then she started moving her eyes a little. I put her straight into the recovery position, I couldn’t believe it,” she added.
In the days prior, Ms Rose had been enjoying a week-long sunshine break with her sister, Natalie Cooper, as well as children Connor, 17, and Caitlin, 15, and mum, Denise Rose.
Three days into their stay, she had finished her evening meal and was heading towards the entertainment area when Catherine Stewart ran past, cradling daughter Kylie Ann in her arms.
Ms Rose, from Hartlepool, said: “I could see she was very upset and frightened, so I followed after her into the complex reception where she started asking for help.”
Ms Stewart, from Donegal in Ireland, said: “I was just screaming for help, asking for them to call an ambulance. I was terrified but no one seemed able to help.
Kylie Ann Stewart
Source: University of Sunderland
“Then suddenly, Rachel seemed to appear out of nowhere and took over, performing CPR,” she said. “It was all a bit of a blur but there is no doubt that she saved my daughter’s life.
After putting the schoolgirl into the recovery positions, paramedics arrived on the scene and continued to work on critically ill Kylie Ann before transferring her to a nearby hospital.
The youngster, who was born with spina bifida, had contracted a vomiting and diarrhoea bug that turned out to be E. coli, causing her kidneys to shut down and for her to slip into unconsciousness.
After 13 days in a Spanish hospital, Kylie Ann was transferred to Dublin, where she spent a further 10 days on dialysis. However, Ms Rose was left unaware of what happened following her intervention.
She said: “After what happened, I just desperately wanted to know if she was alright, if she had survived. I’d heard nothing since the paramedics took her off.”
It was not until she returned home that she saw a message on Facebook saying that Ms Stewart had been searching for her. The families reconnected and Ms Stewart was able to thank Ms Rose.
The schoolgirl is now recovering at home and having regular check-ups at hospital. She is expected to return to school in September.
Simone Bedford, team leader for undergraduate nursing at Sunderland, said: “Rachel is an inspiration to all student nurses, we are very proud of her actions.”