Junee schoolgirl’s warning on the risks of asthma

BE AWARE: Issabella (left) and Charlotte Heritage, 8, want the community to be aware of the dangers of asthma. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

BE AWARE: Issabella (left) and Charlotte Heritage, 8, want the community to be aware of the dangers of asthma. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

For Debie Heritage, helping her daughter cope with an asthma attack is nothing unusual, as Issabella has been dealing with it since she was a preschooler.

But when Issabella, eight, began having an attack at Glenfield Aldi, Ms Heritage found her daughter’s Ventolin puffer was gone.

The Junee resident said she and her family “raced’ to the nearby Southcity Pharmacy and asked for help for Issabella, who was struggling to breathe.

As Ms Heritage found a spacer, pharmacist Erin Downey got Ventolin and made sure Issabella had the much-needed medicine as quickly as possible.

Staff of the nearby Brumby’s bakery also came to assist the family.

Ms Heritage said the actions of those who helped her may have seemed just everyday courtesies, but they were far from it.

“In the times this has happened previously, no pharmacy staff member has helped us like this,” she said.

“They went out of their way to help us. Other times, I’ve needed help because Issabella is having an attack, but have had to wait to pay before I could open puffers, or not been given the assistance we need.”

Ms Heritage said current high pollen counts have made this spring tough not only for Issabella, but also her twin sister Charlotte, whose asthma is milder.

The family wants to warn the wider community about the dangers of asthma, particularly emphasising how quickly an attack can come on, and how important it is to have a good plan, both for daily management of the condition and for emergencies.

Ms Heritage said her daughters’ school, St Joseph’s Primary in Junee, had come on board and helped develop a comprehensive plan, as had Junee Buses.

The girls’ bus driver is aware of the dangers after Issabella once suffered an attack on the bus. He responded by leaving his regular route and driving the schoolgirl straight to the Junee Medical Centre for treatment.

The Heritage sisters want to warn the community about the dangers of asthma.

The Heritage sisters want to warn the community about the dangers of asthma.

“People don’t always realise just how quickly asthma attacks can happen and how serious the situation can be,” Ms Heritage said.

Luke van der Rijt, the owner of Southcity Pharmacy, said his staff considered their response to Issabella’s asthma attack to have been emergency first aid, and were aware it was a particularly bad time of year for asthma.