Joan Langford, 77, was badly injured after she tripped over a manhole.
She was cared for by passing bin woman Steph Houghton, who comforted the pensioner and provided basic first aid.
But Joan, a volunteer at St Catherine’s Hospice, still had to endure a 90-minute wait for an ambulance, until in the end a passing police patrol stepped in and took her to hospital to be treated for head injuries and a sprained wrist.
Now Joan, from Farington nr. Leyland, wants to thank 28-year-old Steph and has given her a bouquet of flowers to show her appreciation.
“I do volunteering work at St Catherine’s and I had just finished my shift,” said Joan, who tripped over the manhole which was jutting out in the pavement at the junction of Todd Lane South and Brownedge Road.
“I stepped over a raised manhole and fell down and smashed my face, banged my head and sprained my wrist. There was blood everywhere.
“Steph might well have saved my life.
“If I had been knocked unconscious, lying there in the cold with so much blood running. Goodness knows how long I would have lain there if she hadn’t come to my rescue.”
Thankfully for grandma Joan, whose two daughters do not live nearby, the bin lorry had been coming down the street at the time.
Speaking to the Post Steph, who has been working for FCC Environment in South Ribble as a bin woman for about a year, said: “I was on the bins and I saw her flying out of the corner of my eye.
“I ran to help her as fast as I could. She was just bleeding everywhere, you couldn’t see her face. She had a big lump on her head and I had to wipe the blood away from her eyes.
“She was quite disfigured really, it wasn’t nice to see.
“The way she fell, you could hear the crack. It was so loud I just ran over because she she didn’t move.
“She could have been knocked out unconscious, she could have died. Nobody else stopped to help. It was lucky I was there. I was quite upset actually that no one else stopped.
“Joan was dizzy and didn’t know where she was and couldn’t stand up.”
Recalling what happened Joan said: “Steph literally jumped out of the wagon.
“Then she hugged me to keep me warm. The other fellows on the bin wagon came over as well and she told them to take their jackets off so that they could wrap them round me because I was shivering.”
While Steph was looking after Joan her colleague from the bin collection service dialled 999 and shortly afterwards police officers turned up.
“They got wet wipes out and cleaned me up,” said Joan. “The Ambulance was taking ages to come so the police ended up taking me to Chorley Hospital.
“I dread to think what could have happened if they hadn’t acted so promptly.”
A spokesman from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said: “We were called at 1.59pm but the Ambulance was cancelled after about an hour and a half. When we get a 999 call we have to categorise them and because she was alert we had given paramedics two hours to get to her. The police officers had decided to take her into hospital themselves.”
Steph said: “I wanted to go to hospital with her but I had to stay and finish my job so I gave Joan my number and told her to call me to let me know how she got on.”
While Steph sat hugging Joan, keeping her warm, she talked to her and it was during their conversation that the two of them discovered that they lived near each other.
Joan said: “Not only did Steph help me at the time but she then dropped in to see me at later that night to see me to see if I was OK.
“I just wanted to thank her really because we don’t appreciate enough what they do.
“I had broken my nose, there’s so much swelling now.”
Steph said: “I popped round because I hadn’t heard from Joan and we had a nice chat. We’re friends now. The manhole or grid that she tripped over needs investigating”
Councillor Graham Walton, South Ribble Council’s cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Streetscene, said: “We’re incredibly proud of Steph Houghton and the crew from our waste partners FCC Environment - Mark Gillibrand and Vadims Straders – for their quick-thinking in helping Mrs Langford.
“After seeing her trip and hurt her face, they rushed to her aid, calling 999, covering her with their jackets to keep her warm, and re-assuring her until the emergency services arrived.
“They did a cracking job that day and their behaviour will be held up as a fantastic example of how our waste crews go above and beyond the call of duty to do a great job.
“The next day Steph visited the lady at home to check on her progress and the team at FCC has since received a lovely phone call from Mrs Langford thanking them for their help.”
It’s not the first time that a binwoman, or man, from South Ribble has come to the rescue of a resident.
In September last year another hero binman took care of a pensioner when he discovered him sprawled on the ground after a bad fall. The Penwortham resident, only known by his first name of John, was bleeding from a head injury and in shock.
Alex Splatt and Martin Lathom, who also work for FCC Environment in South Ribble, discovered the OAP when they went around the back of the house on Pope Lane to collect the bins.
They phoned for paramedics and kept John talking until the Ambulance arrived.
Joan is now recovering from her fall but will have to have an operation on her nose in the coming weeks.