Cath says she owes her life to her 'personal angel' Arlene from Asda Alloa

January 29, 2021

"She's my own personal angel sent from heaven and I owe her my life" – these are the words of Cath McCaig from our Alloa store whose life was saved by her colleague Arlene Nimmo after she suffered a severe allergic reaction and went into anaphylactic shock.

Cath, who's 56 and had never had an allergic reaction before, had taken a bite of a nutty chocolate bar when her throat suddenly swelled up. She began to gasp for air and was sick.

She said: "It just happened so quickly. I had the chocolate and then I couldn't breathe. I managed to tap one of the lads, Frazer Burns, on the back and he and Ryan Whyte took me to Arlene in the kiosk.

"I was really panicking. It was the fright of my life. I couldn't get my breath at all. I was sweating and my heart rate was sky high and I couldn't speak.

"Arlene managed to get me into a position with my head back so my airways were opened up. Then she tried to calm me down as I thought I was dying. It's a feeling I never, ever want to have in my life again."

The ambulance service was called and Arlene also rang Cath's husband Mark who arrived at the store in five minutes and decided to immediately drive his wife to Larbert Hospital, where she was given an antihistamine and checked over, before being allowed home.

Cath, who's worked at the store for 14 years, said: "I've never had an allergic reaction in my life, so this has come as a complete shock. I'm just waiting to find out if it's nuts or chocolate that I'm allergic to."

She said: "I do not know why I went to Arlene that day. I think I just thought she'd know what to do. I can't thank her enough. She's my own personal angel sent from heaven and I owe her my life."

Fifty-five-year-old Arlene, who's worked at the store for five years, said: "When I saw Cath she was grey and couldn't breathe and I knew there was something seriously wrong. She was passing out so I grabbed her. She was panicking and hyperventilating. Her airwaves were closing and she was being sick too.

"I managed to get her into a position on a chair which I knew would open up her airwaves and give them a clear run.

"It was just instinct – and having three kids! It was just survival mode which kicked in. I knew that if I didn't do anything she would have been in big trouble. She really wasn't in a good place. I don't think I'm a hero – she's just my friend.

"I've never dealt with anything like that before. I've just dealt with the usual children's scenarios including having peanuts stuck up the nose, but nothing like that. It was pretty frightening."

Michelle Piper, the store's service section leader, posted about Cath and Arlene on Instagram and said the whole store was proud of Arlene.

She said: "Arlene helped Cath without thinking twice. She was there to help her, keep her calm and get her the help she needed. I'm proud of her as I'm proud with all our colleagues.

"The friendships formed in store are amazing and the love you feel from everyone is something special."

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