Wednesday 23 May 2018

'I miss Sherry every second I breathe' - tragic choking death of woman inspires new app to help save others

Sherry Campbell
Sherry Campbell

Victoria Leonard

A lifelong friend of a young woman who choked to death has developed a new app which she hopes will spare others the heartache of losing a loved one.

Sherry Campbell from Groomsport, Co Down, was found dead by her father Shannon in the kitchen of the family home last September.

Sherry, a special needs teaching assistant at Strangford College, choked on a piece of meat. She passed away a month before her 30th birthday.

She had died alone and had been unable to call out to her parents, who were asleep upstairs and had their mobile phones on silent.

Now her friend Danielle Elmes (39) has designed the LifeAlert app, which alerts friends and family that victims are in danger and uses their mobile phone's GPS to identify their location - all at the touch of a button.

The service, which doesn't require users to be able to speak to use, even overrides mobiles which are on silent, emitting a shrill sound from the phones of those listed as emergency contacts.

Sherry Campbell
Sherry Campbell

Danielle said: "The night Sherry died her parents were asleep upstairs with their phones on silent and she couldn't call out, but if she had had an app like this it would have enabled her to send a message to her mum and dad, who would have been able to get to her.

"The chances of survival for choking victims are much improved if there are people there," said Danielle. "I have worked with a Belfast company to design an app whereby if someone presses it and they need help it accesses your emergency contacts, alerts them with a shrill sound and shows where the victim is and that they need help.

"I'm not aware of anything else like this on the market.

"I designed the application with choking victims who can't speak in mind, but it could help a lot of people - those who are being attacked, elderly people who have fallen, people who have taken a heart attack.

"There is also a separate service for people who can speak, which dials the emergency services at the touch of a button and alerts them to their location."

Danielle says the idea for the app came to her in the week after her friend's death, and that she developed it with the blessing of Sherry's parents.

"I was lying in bed the night she died thinking, 'My child could be downstairs choking to death and unable to call for help,' the mum-of-three said.

"I decided to do it as I didn't want anyone else to die like Sherry.

"This app could potentially save a life - by having this there's a greater chance of people in that situation having help come to them.

"When I explained my idea to Sherry's parents they were pleased. Not a day goes by when I don't think about her and what might have been done to save her."

Sherry's mum Fionuala said she was "absolutely delighted" by the app.

"I was in tears when I found out what Danielle was doing," she said. "If it saves anybody else's life it would be wonderful.

"Sherry always had her phone in her hand. This is part of Sherry's legacy - Danielle said that if it hadn't been for Sherry's accident, she wouldn't have thought of this.

"Sherry is helping to save other lives. I would urge other parents to get this app for their kids.

"I miss Sherry every second I breathe. Her dad used to call her his 'little Princess.' We are just existing now."

LifeAlert will be available from next week for £2.99 on Google Playstore. A portion of the proceeds will go to The Sherry Campbell Foundation, which provides training in how to deal with choking.

Belfast Telegraph

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