As Limavady teenager Courtney McCrea walked to class last Wednesday, she never imagined having to use life-saving skills to help a stranger.
The year 14 student from Limavady High School was on her way to Limavady Grammar School where she studies a link subject.
“I was with my friend Ross Atkinson, who goes to Limavady Grammar School, and suddenly my eye was drawn across the road to an object on the ground,” she said.
“I realised a man was lying on the ground, so we went over. I could see he had hurt his head so, immediately, I introduced myself and said, ‘Can I help you? Can you tell me what happened?’”
As onlookers gathered, Courtney kept talking to the man.
“I asked him his name, and he told me his name, but he couldn’t tell us what had happened,” she said.
“Ross rang for the ambulance and, while he did that, I asked the man when he had eaten and drank last, and if he was on any medication.”
Courtney also comforted the man’s mother until the ambulance arrived.
As the drama unfolded, student nurse Gemma Lynch was driving past with her mum.
“We pulled over and I went over to assist, but Courtney already had the situation under control.
“Not only had her friend phoned the ambulance, but she had the man in the recovery position, and she had assessed the area because he was near a road. She was making sure he was safe,” said Gemma.
“Courtney was so professional and compassionate. She was spot on and knew exactly what she needed to do.
“There was another registered nurse who stopped, but Courtney had it under control.”
Once the ambulance arrived, Courtney and Ross left the scene and went on to school.
Courtney, who has been trained by the Red Cross and is a member of her school’s Red Cross club, is no stranger to attending events having volunteered with the British Red Cross at the Tall Ships and Tennents Vital concert last summer with other volunteers.
However, last Wednesday was the first time she had to use those skills on her own, but the 17-year-old took it in her stride.
“I just did it. I thought, ‘I can help, I should help him’,” she said.
“That’s what I am duty bound to do. I don’t know what happened him, but I hope I did something right.
“I didn’t expect to have to use my skills at all. I was just walking along and chatting to my friend about school and, all of sudden, we saw someone lying there and we thought, we have to go over now and help.”
When Courtney returned to school, she talked through the situation with Limavady High School teacher, and Red Cross volunteer, Alastair McFarland.
“I had a delayed nose bleed because of the excitement and adrenalin of it all,” she said.
“I haven’t had a chance to think about it because everyone has said to me. I just did what anyone else would do.
“I like having first aid because it’s helpful, and I like going out doing duties, but I don’t want to do it as a job.
“It’s a good skill to have, but I want to do other things, like go into TV and film.”
Mr McFarland praised Courtney for handling the situation in such a calm manner.
“This was the first time on her own where she has helped someone, and Courtney handled it very well by all accounts, “ said Mr McFarland.
Referring to the Red Cross training delivered through the club at Limavady High School, Mr McFarland said: “It’s something I believe all young people should have
“She did what she was trained to do, and that’s the main thing.
“We do the training and, if you are fit to help someone, then that’s the main thing.”
Limavady High School Principal, Shane Laverty, praised Courtney for her bravery.
“Here we have a young lady, still in her teenage years, who is prepared to take a risk in quite a scary situation, and put into practice the skills she has learned through the club at school, “ said Mr Laverty.
“Mr McFarland is at the top of his game and we are so lucky to have him on our staff.”