Off-duty nurse saves man’s life after car crash in Wigan

Claire Carter with son Owen and Joshua Barr, left, and Ryan Roberts from Winstanley College
Claire Carter with son Owen and Joshua Barr, left, and Ryan Roberts from Winstanley College

An off-duty Wigan nurse saved the life of an elderly man who crashed into her car after suffering a heart attack behind the wheel.

Claire Carter, from Winstanley, was at home on her weekly day off from work when she heard a loud bang from outside the house.

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The 33-year-old mum of three was looking after her youngest son Owen when the incident happened and said she instinctively had the feeling it was her car involved.

Having 11 years of nursing under her belt, Claire - who now works as a health visitor - rushed out to help the driver who had smashed into her stationary vehicle on the street outside.

“It was carnage,” she said. “There was smoke everywhere and both airbags had gone off.

“I don’t know what happened but I just went into nurse mode.

“He was unresponsive at the time.”

Claire was soon approached by Joshua Barr and Ryan Roberts, students at Winstanley College who had seen the incident from across the road.

“They helped me to get him out of the car,” she said.

“They ran into my house and got blankets for me, and helped me to find his medication. They were just so helpful.”

During the incident, Claire managed to hand her son over to a neighbour so that she could fully concentrate on providing emergency assistance to the man.

Whilst waiting around half an hour for paramedics, she set about trying to make the man comfortable and accessible in case she needed to give CPR.

“The shock of the whole thing brought him round,” she said. “I managed to ascertain his name.

“He was clutching at his chest and fitting.

“I soon found out that he had a cardiac history,”

Thanks to her cardiology training, Claire was aware that a lot of heart patients carry GTN spray, which is used to relax and widen blood vessels in the heart and in the rest of the body.

Once Joshua and Ryan had helped to locate the life-saving medication, she was able to administer it to help relieve his symptoms.

A short while later, an off-duty police officer was jogging past and came across the concerning scene.

“She rang his granddaughter,” added Claire. “His wife has passed away and he lost his daughter last year.

“He has had a lot of tragedy in his life.

“It was really heartbreaking to hear.”

The elderly man, known only as Ray, rang Claire from hospital a few days later to thank her. The pair are planning to meet up when he is back at home.

So impressed was Claire by the Winstanley students, she contacted the college to tell them about their life-saving actions.

The college has since sent letters of commendation home to the boys and their parents.

Louise Kipping, principal at Winstanley College, said that she is “incredibly proud” of their actions.

Claire’s sister Karla Rimaitis contacted the Observer after learning of her sister’s incredible actions. “I could not be prouder,” she said. “She is an amazing person and she inspires me daily.”