River rescue owed much to training

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Viv Ashton put her life-saving training to good use on the fateful day she helped rescue an elderly man from a river in Sudbury.

Viv, a teacher at Hadleigh Community Primary School, was out jogging along the town’s Valley Walk when she passed a woman who seemed to be confused and disorientated.

Viv discovered the elderly woman had fallen into the River Stour. When her husband had tried to rescue her, he too had slipped in.

The elderly woman had managed to get out herself but her husband was still in the cold water, hanging on to consciousness.

“It was practically dark and I could just about make out the figure of a man in the water but he was obscured by a tree,” said Viv.

“When I got to the water’s edge, I could tell it was pretty serious and he was in a bad way; he was slipping in and out of consciousness and I was very concerned for his wellbeing.”

Viv immediately called for emergency help. Her training meant she was not allowed to go into the water herself but she managed to use a stick to bring the man closer and she held his head up above water until help arrived.

Viv said she later learned the elderly woman had had a stroke and had a speech impediment.

“When I first saw her, I didn’t realise she was wet because she was wearing a big padded coat,” she said. “She was muttering and I could just about make out the words ‘husband’ and ‘water’. Then I realised just what had happened.”

Viv said her first aid training meant she was able to help in a practical way.

“These are the times when you know you’ve made a difference,” she said.

Viv fits in being a first responder around her three-day teaching job, also doing overnight shifts at the weekend when time allows.

“I do feel it’s really valuable to put something back into the community and this is something that is very practical,” added Viv, who is pictured left.