Penalty fit for young thieves

A Nelson woman whose possessions were stolen as she suffered a seizure, has healed wounds with the culprits in the most practical way possible – enrolling them in a first aid course.

Naomi Strain suffers from uncontrolled epilepsy, which restricts her ability to get about in the outdoors.  “I have one or two a week, sometimes – a lot of the time I’ll stay at home to make sure I’m not having them out in public but at the same time I don’t want to just sit around doing nothing so I do take myself off on my own and do things,” she said.

Strain was riding her bike on the coastal track between Stoke and Richmond this week when she felt a fit coming on.  While she had enough time to chain her bike to a bench before the seizure took hold, when she came around she realised her backpack had gone, along with her bike helmet, wallet and medical ID.  Strain estimated she lost about 90 minutes each time she had a seizure due to memory loss beforehand and during the recovery period which often made her confused and drowsy.  After enduring another seizure once she got home, Strain put a plea for her bag’s return on social media.

Through the Nelson Pay-it-Forward Facebook page, Strain was contacted by a woman who said she may have found her bag and possessions – at the bottom of her son’s wardrobe.  “She was embarrassed – mortified really – but said: Did I want to drop it at the police station or meet up.”

Strain went to the “lovely’ family’s home where she came face to face with the two siblings responsible, aged 13 and 14.  “Apparently, the elder brother had dared the younger one (to take it).  They’d both come across me, were sh**t scared and didn’t know what to do so they just grabbed the bag and ran.  “I think it was literally a spur of the moment thing, playing silly buggers with no thought into it at all.”  Once Strain explained how the theft affected her, the conversation turned to restorative justice.  The brothers offered to carry out some work for her but she had a more practical suggestion.  As well as making the boys pay to have her bankcards replaced, she asked both to attend a first aid course which everyone agreed to.

“She (they boys’ mother) could give me a few quid and it wouldn’t mean anything but if they can go off and learn what to do in the future – if they came across somebody in the same situation they’ll be able to do something about it,” she said.

If you come across a person having a seizure:

  • Loosen clothing around the person’s neck and remove any sharp object in the vicinity.
  • Do not try to hold the person down or restrain them or insert any objects in the person’s mouth. This can result in injury.
  • If you could not turn the person on their side during the seizure, do so when the seizure ends and the person is more relaxed.
  • If the person is having trouble breathing, use your finger to gently clear his/her mouth of any vomit or saliva.  If this does not work, call for emergency help.
  • Call 111 if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, if another seizure begins soon after the first, or if the person cannot be awakened after the movements have stopped.

By Tim O’Connell, taken from the Southland Times 24 March 2017.