Jed McLay went from paper boy to saviour in mere moments on his daily South Hill delivery run in Oamaru yesterday morning.
It started off like any other morning for the 11-year-old Oamaru Mail paper boy, who was doing his normal delivery since starting the paper run 18 months ago.
He arrived at the address of an 87-year-old woman, where he delivered her paper to the front doorstep as usual, but entered the house after hearing cries for help from inside.
"As I came up to the door I heard a faint yell for help," Jed said. "I went into the bedroom and there was [the woman] lying on the floor."
The woman asked Jed to call for help, so he dialled 111 for the St John's ambulance at 7.15am, where the operator instructed Jed not to allow the woman to eat or drink anything and to keep her pet dog away from her feet.
Jed obeyed these instructions and waited with the woman for 10 minutes until the ambulance arrived. When asked if he was frightened, Jed said: "I was a bit worried."
Intensive care paramedic Tracy Vickers said the woman, who had taken a fall 12 hours earlier, was quite unwell when the ambulance officers came.
Team manager Bob Wilson, who also attended the incident, said the woman had not broken anything but she was elderly and didn't have the strength to get up.
She had been yelling for help all night but no one had heard, and the night had been very cold, he said.
"I don't know how long it would have been before someone found her if Jed hadn't come along," Mr Wilson said.
The woman was taken to Oamaru Hospital for treatment and was still there last night.
Both ambulance officers congratulated Jed, saying he had done an excellent job.
After the rescue mission, Jed went to school at Oamaru Intermediate as always, but he didn't tell anyone about what had happened.
However, his twin sister, India, couldn't let him get away without some praise and told the entire Year 7 class. Jed's mother, Jacqui, was pleased.
"We are immensely proud of Jed," she said. "But I think any other little paper boy would have done the same thing, too."
Jed said the woman had told him how much she appreciated his help, before she was taken to hospital.
He had often spoken to the woman when he delivered her paper, and she was prone to leave him a chocolate bar in the letterbox on Thursdays.
The woman was to be issued with a St John medical alarm so no similar incidents would happen again.