Building a Better Health Service


Sophie was a lifesaver for her Mum

But for the quick-thinking and calm head of seven-year-old Sophie Doyle, her mum Janet would not have been around to recount this amazing story to our team:

Janet Doyle went into anaphylactic shock while home with her daughter in the tiny village of Errill, Co Laois. Janet has a long-term illness where she is at risk of anaphylaxis and had regularly spoken to Sophie about what to expect and what to do in an emergency.

But she was not expecting her ‘baby’ seven-year-old to come to rescue in such a vital way.

“If it wasn’t for her quick-thinking, I would be dead. She saved my life,” Janet said.

“She has seen me in anaphylactic shock before and she knows how we usually react to it. We have spoken to her about my condition and what to do in an emergency, but you say a lot of things to kids and you assume that a lot of it is not going in.

I couldn’t believe that she had the presence of mind to get me my adrenaline shot for me to take and then phone for an ambulance. She knew that mammy needed help,” said the proud mum.

Sophie rang 999 and was able to tell the National Ambulance Service that Janet was in anaphylactic shock, and that she had already given her a shot.

“She spoke to the dispatcher and was able to tell them exactly where we were and what was going on. She even gave them the number for her Aunt Eileen so they could contact her to come over,” said Janet.

“The dispatcher, Aoife, was incredible. She managed to keep Sophie calm and notify Eileen to come over.

“I am actually amazed at the service one person can get. The whole ambulance and dispatch team pulled together to get me safely to hospital. Every single piece of the operation worked perfectly. If one of the pieces doesn’t work, then the system doesn’t work.

“I was in such severe shock that I ended up needing a number of shots. So that shot that Sophie got for me was critical. If I hadn’t got that shot then, I wouldn’t have made it. It is as simple as that,” she explained.

Janet had to spend a few days recovering in St James’ Hospital in Dublin but was well enough to accompany Sophie to the National Emergency Operations Centre in Tallaght on the invitation of the National Ambulance Service.  Sophie was presented with her Certificate of Bravery by the NAS Call Taker, Aoife, who worked with her on that day, and both are pictured below.

Sophie Doyle

“She had been very panicked after the incident and had bad dreams for a while afterwards. But when she went up to Dublin to meet Aoife and to see the guys in Tallaght, it was as if a light was switched off and she felt so much better,” she said.

“She was able to see how everything works and all the people that are at the end of the phone when you ring 999.

“Aoife came in on her day off to meet Sophie and I think it was good for her too to see the little girl that she helped on the phone that day.”

Janet added that the whole incident highlighted the need for people in small country villages to know and use their eircodes.

“We live in a tiny village so it can be hard for ambulance drivers to find houses because there are no numbers. Sophie had to try to explain exactly where we were, saying that our house was the one with the little girl standing in the window,” said Janet.

“When every second counts, you need to make sure that the ambulance can get to you as quickly as possible.”