Reddit post sends Dunedin woman an ambulance from the other side of the world

The plea for help posted by David Neal, who was looking to help his sister's fiancee. Identifying details have been removed.

The plea for help posted by David Neal, who was looking to help his sister's fiancee. Identifying details have been removed.

An American woman who watched her fiancee have a seizure over Skype managed to get an ambulance to her Dunedin flat - through Reddit.

A Kiwi user of website Reddit called emergency services after seeing the desperate call to help posted from the other side of the world. Paramedics briefly hospitalised the woman, who has suffered from epilepsy in the past.

But getting paramedics to the Otago student took a lot more than just a phone call. The story of her rescue exemplifies the benefits that our increasingly connected world brings - along with its deficiencies. 

The couple were talking on Tuesday afternoon when McClelland fell into a seizure.

The couple were talking on Tuesday afternoon when McClelland fell into a seizure.

Anna Messner and Melody McClelland have been dating for a year and a half, despite the extreme distance between them - Messner lives in Tennessee, while McClelland studies in Dunedin. They recently became engaged, and Skype regularly.

Facebook and Reddit users solve 20-year-old mystery of dead teen 
Reddit ranks New Zealand's flag options


The two were talking on Tuesday afternoon (NZ time) when McClelland starting having a seizure.

Messner watched in horror.

"We were having a random conversation about stuff that was going on in our lives. All of a sudden Melody goes silent, starts breathing unnaturally," she said.

"I ask her what's wrong, she's unresponsive. Then she lies back on her bed and her mouth starts foaming, and her breathing is irregular.

Ad Feedback

"At this point I'm terrified. I keep asking her to turn her head because I don't want her to choke on her saliva.

Messner asked her brother David Neal to call an ambulance.

Neal looked up the Dunedin police number and attempted to call on his cellphone.

"I have $2 of international minutes - but apparently that just means North America," he said.

"I called 911 - our version of 111 - and ask if they can get a message to New Zealand. They say they have no way of getting in touch, they can't do international calls either.

"So I go to my Facebook to see if there's anyone I know in New Zealand who might be online.

"Then I think wait a minute, I know a place where a lot of people from NZ would be online.

Neal posted McClelland's address on Reddit's New Zealand subreddit just after 4pm (NZ time), along with a plea to call an ambulance.

"A friend of mine at [address] in dunedin is having a seizure, please call 111 and get someone over there.

let me know when it is done

I am in the USA and do not have international calling"

A minute later he posted again - "Help".

Reddit is a gigantic discussion and news website, with hundreds of thousands of small communities centred around "subreddits".

The "newzealand" subreddit has over 61,000 subscribers and is known for, among other things, convincing wayward Americans that gardens are illegal in New Zealand.

Soon the post was being discussed on an IRC chatroom associated with the subreddit.

Users did not immediately jump to call an ambulance as they were unsure if the post was real.

Emergency services are often involved in elaborate online pranks, such as "swatting", where people deceive highly armed SWAT teams into invading other people's homes.

Reddit user Jana Hayes, 24, of Christchurch, eventually called 111.

"At first I sat there for a while, wondering if it was real. I didn't want to get a fine from the ambo for calling in something fake," she said.

"But the guy's profile was really old. It wasn't a new account or anything."

"First I called the number for the police station, then I just dialled 111 straight. I was worried they would think it was a joke.

"I had to play it off, say it was mutual friend who had alerted me.

All the while, Messner and Neal watched in horror from Tennessee. Finally, paramedics showed up.

" I heard someone knocking her front door asking if she was alright. She was unresponsive so I started yelling as loud as I could that she was in her study," Messner said.

"I just kept yelling help, help."

McClelland regained consciousness, but was confused. She went to her window, where the paramedic was knocking, then opened her door.

"They took me to ED, gave me a blood test, checked out fine," McClelland said.

"When I was young I was diagnosed with epilepsy, so I'm assuming that's what it was."

Messner was immensely relieved.

"I just vividly remember her lips turning blue and her mouth frothing. I just can't get that image out of my mind.

"Melody's my whole world, I love her so much. I was so scared.

"I'm just happy that I had her address."

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers

Masala fallout continues

The stigma attached to the Masala restaurant has made establishing their own restaurant  Paprika much harder for Ana and ...

Uncertainty as building sold out underneath new restaurant owners.

New principal for Kaipara College

Steve McCracken, Kaipara College's new headmaster, says he is a keen sportsman.

Westlake Boys' deputy headmaster Steve McCracken chosen to lead Auckland's Kaipara College.

Making Greenhithe predator free

Greenhithe Community Trust eco-facilitator Priscilla Collins.

Another Upper Harbour community is getting onboard to bring back native birds.

Board 'stood on' by government

The community has been rallying against the selling of 12 hectares of Point England Reserve.

An Auckland local board says it is being walked over by the Government.


Yacht found, crew safe

Havana Coffee's Geoff Marsland, right, was on the yacht.

Air Force spots Wellingtonians missing "miles from land in the open ocean".

Reading to rebuild video

Reading Cinema and surrounding buildings on Courtenay Place were closed for four months following the November quake.

Multimillion-dollar quake payout allows Wellington cinema to rebuild on demolished car park land.

$14K added to bill

Colleen Warin was ordered to pay her parents $367,000, now topped off with nearly $14,000 legal costs.

Colleen Warin's $367,000 debt to her parents has increased by $14,000.

Factory death still being probed

The entrance to the Homegrown Juice Company's office and factory on Williams Street, Hastings.

The woman found dead at a Hastings juice processing company was 23.


Communal living in the red zone?

Ecological economist Marjan van den Belt says the red zone could house the world's biggest "eco village".

The "world's largest" eco village could be established in Christchurch's residential red zone, academic says.

SI train comeback?

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey is keen to see a Southern passenger rail service return.

Christchurch to Invercargill passenger train service is a step closer to making a comeback.

'We haven't located him yet'

Christchurch builder Michael McGrath, 49, has been missing for more than a month.

Where is Michael McGrath? A "major" investigation, including a dump search, continues.

$35k marriage scam

Li Jun Xue, left, committed fraud after taking $35,000 from a Wellington man and saying it was a downpayment as a ...

He fell in love with "Jessica", but the "Singaporean" honey-trap was married.


Razor-laced balls at dog park

Heather Gowans often throws a tennis ball for her dog at Day's Park and is horrified Peppa could have bitten into one of ...

Tennis balls containing razor blades have been found in popular Hamilton dog park.

What a winning streak

The $27.3 million winning Lotto and Powerball ticket was bought at the Four Square in Thames owned by Sukhpal Singh.

Six $1m-winning Lotto tickets have been sold in the Waikato in as many weeks, the latest one in Cambridge.

Teen dies at work

A man who died after a work place accident at Torpedo7 on Wednesday has been named (file).

Teenager Jacob Woods was killed while working at a Hamilton distribution centre.

Teen's possum fur phone cover

Maggie Gibson with her possum fur phone cover.

Maggie Gibson has made the most Kiwi smartphone accessory from a dead possum.


Ngamotu Marae dreams shattered

The initial design of the Ngamotu Marae, which was to be located on Ocean View Pde site, was to cost $4.5 million and ...

Theft linked to scrapping of $4.5 million New Plymouth marae proposal.

A man and his kereru

Kereru like to flock but are usually only seen in ones and twos.

OPINION: Sometimes you get what you want and it just isn't enough.

A new way forward

New Plymouth District Council  and iwi leadership have created Te Huinga Taumatua Committee.

It's a fresh body, with fresh members looking for a fresh start.

What the Hoyle?

15062017: Word on the Street. Short Lane and Hoyle Place.

Hoyle Place wasn't always Hoyle Place.


Tunnel a training exercise

Phil Hooper, left, Jim Richards and Bridgette Murphy have started installing a living tunnel for the Esplanade Scenic ...

Esplanade Scenic Railway passengers have a new attraction to enjoy

Web of lies

Nakita Sue will serve six months' home detention.

Woman stole man's life savings with sob stories and threats to post nude pics.

Food or the doctor?

A visit to your doctor will cost the same whether you have a community services card or not.

Community services cards are pointless, critics say, as health costs cripple.

Fireball 'like a bomb'

Flames leaped 10m into the air as the blaze engulfed the Ngamoko Rd house, near the town of Norsewood.

There was a huge boom as flames from a house reached a nearby shed, exploding in a fireball.


Meet the Kiwi helping Oracle

Boat Build Manager Tim Smyth with the saw blade used by the giant CNC Milling machine  used on America's Cup yacht Oracle.

If Oracle turn it round to beat Team NZ, it will be thanks in part to a boat builder from Nelson.

Greens target Nelson

Nick Smith has held the Nelson seat for 21 years.

The Green Party is campaigning to break Nick Smith's 21-year grip on Nelson.

Crash causes peak-hour delays

Police are working to control traffic on Waimea Rd, Nelson after a two car crash during school peak-hour.

A car accident in Nelson has caused traffic delays during school peak-hour time.

Elderly woman died in fire

Wednesday's fire sent a huge plume of thick, black smoke over the Nelson suburb of Stoke.

Police say an elderly woman died in a Stoke house fire but can't confirm her identity.


Diarrhoea outbreak closes pool

Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 will be closed for several days while it is tested for the parasite.

Seven swimmers have fallen ill after using a public pool in Blenheim.

Beached on an atoll

Havana Coffee's Geoff Marsland, right, was on the yacht.

The crew aboard a badly damaged yacht in the Pacific Ocean have been found alive and well.

Hunting the 'Kiwi way'

The Gunshack Blenheim owner Peter Watson says hunters are being left with fewer places to shoot because of poachers.

Poachers, and even some young hunters, have "no respect for anyone or anything, not even the animals they're hunting".

Once bitten, not shy

The Employment Relations Authority has penalised KRSVP Limited $25,000 for failing to keep proper employment records.

Marlborough vineyard contractor stung for the same employment breach twice in two years.

South Canterbury

Prince rescued from steep cliff

Prince was cold, wet and hungry, but very vocal, as rescuers approached the area where he was stuck on Thursday.

Firefighters walk 22kms in cold, wet conditions to rescue dog from cliff near Fairlie.

$50k for rail case

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey is keen to see a Southern passenger rail service return.

Govt announces $50k to investigate return of Southern passenger rail service.

Drugs, guns 'don't mix'

A Pareora man has been given a warning after a cannabis bong and unsecured shotgun were found in his car as he left a ...

Police warn of dangers of mixing drugs, alcohol and guns after callout to bonfire

$500,000 aviary to protect stilts

A new breeding aviary for black stilt (kaki) will be built near Twizel.

A new $500,000 breeding aviary for the world's rarest wading bird will be built near Twizel.


Young performers face the music

Monique Clementson (Deloris), Annie Sherborne, and Rachael Scott (Sister Mary Patrick) at rehearsals for the ...

Young performers are gaining exposure and touring the country for Sister Act the musical.

Arrested after threats

08072016 Newsphoto. SIMON MAUDE / FAIRFAX NZ. Generic, stock, NZ Police, police car, The po po, police. 08-N-policeC

A 54-year-old man was arrested after threatening Work and Income staff.

Father 'evil', grief-stricken mum says

Police staff at the Riverton home where three-month-old Honour Ashworth was injured.

Grieving Southland mother says her soul was "ripped to pieces" when she found out her partner caused her infant son's death.

Green Party takes off

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand Invercargill candidate Rochelle Surendran speaks at a Green Party Launch in Invercargill.

Green Party co-leader comments on Clutha-Southland MP resignation during Invercargill visit.

Ad Feedback