Allergic reaction to cleaning spray nearly killed young mum


By Christine Lavelle

A YOUNG mum has hailed three paramedics ‘miracles workers’ after they saved her life when she suffered an extreme allergic reaction to a household cleaning spray.

Lynda Paterson, 27, had decided to tackle a patch of mould in her two-year-old daughter Mya’s bedroom, when just a “couple of skooshes” of the spray left her on death’s door.

As her throat began to tighten up she made a desperate call to the emergency services, but only managed to tell 999 staff the first part of her address before collapsing.

Ms Paterson, a hospital support worker from Corstorphine in Edinburgh, was home alone with Mya, who looked on helplessly as the event unfolded on August 18.

But ambulance staff tracked down the flat and it is because of their quick-thinking that Ms Paterson believes she is still alive.

‘I thought I was having an asthma attack’

She said: “We’ve had a bit of a problem with dampness in the flat, and because it’s rented I hadn’t got round to buying my own cleaning products.

“I opened Mya’s drawer, saw the mould, and gave it a couple of skooshes of a mould-killer spray I found.

“Straight away my throat tightened up and I thought I was having an asthma attack, but when I took my inhaler nothing changed and I knew there was something seriously wrong.

“I then remember collapsing and trying to crawl to the flat door and opening it, before blanking out.

“I have vague memories of Mya stroking my head, and at the time I was so worried for her being in alone while I was out cold.

“Next thing I knew I was in resuscitation.”

When the paramedics arrived at the scene, their only clue as to what was wrong was an inhaler lying beside Ms Paterson – which she had taken on the presumption she was suffering from asthma.

Anaphylactic shock

The crew – Paul Gaughan, 38, Graeme Tilbury, 34, and Mat Stephenson, 32 – had to act fast and started treating her as though she had had an asthma attack; unaware she was actually in anaphylactic shock.

Mr Gaughan said: “When I saw how young she was, and of course the wee one on her own, my jaw hit the floor.

“I knew we had to make it right for them.”

After police arrived at the scene, they attempted to track down family members, but Ms Paterson’s mum Irene did not hear her phone ringing, and Mya’s father Sandy Douglas has a different surname and could not be traced quickly.

But – brave Mya was able to point to the family’s car, and officers were able to track down Mr Douglas.

Ms Paterson said: “She was an absolute star throughout the whole thing.

“I think she’s young enough that she won’t remember the whole thing or be scarred by it.

“All she ever says every now and then is ‘Mummy was silly to go to sleep outside’.”

Personal thank you

The paramedic trio managed to stabilise Ms Paterson before rushing her to Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, leaving Mya in the care of police.

When she was well enough, Ms Paterson took the unusual step of finding the life-saving team, saying that she could not imagine not saying thank you in person.

She gave them all a bottle of champagne, and said if she were a millionaire she would have written them all million-pound-cheques.

She said: “The consultant told me if they hadn’t done what they had done it would have been a far different outcome, and when I asked what that was, the answer was a coma or death.

“I just wanted to thank them in person, because I could just walk past them on the street and never know.

“It’s given me a bit of closure as well.

“They just shrug it off as they do it every day, but it’s not like that for everyone else, and I wanted them to know they are miracle workers.”

The same consultant took a rare step of sending a note to the paramedics, congratulating them on the clinical decisions they took which saved the young mum’s life.

‘It wasn’t one you forget’

Mr Stephenson said the service often receives ‘thank you’ cards from the public, but to be sought out personally was a bit more unusual.

And colleague Mr Gaughan said: “I popped my head in to see how she was doing when we got to the hospital.

“Obviously in this job you have to always be moving onto the next call, but with her being so young and the wee one involved, it wasn’t one you forget.”

Ms Paterson’s mum Irene Handy, 52, said: “Ambulance workers can get a lot of flak, but they really deserve more recognition for the amazing job they do.”

Ms Paterson – who now carries medication incase her allergy ever flares up again – said she is trying not to think about the ordeal too much in an attempt to move on from it.

She said: “I think the fact I knew what caused it helps – I’ve never been around that sort of stuff before so I’ve just been told to stay well away from it.

“At first when I went back to the house I felt a bit funny because I could see all the stuff I’d scattered around in my panic, but it’s become much easier.”


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