Bystanders save collapsed player during basketball match

A SOCIAL basketball game at the St Arnaud basketball stadium turned deadly serious when one of the players collapsed with a suspected heart attack.

Bystanders jumped into action and luckily, a number of them were CFA members.

St Arnaud brigade Captain Trevor Baldock had been playing squash with Slaty Creek brigade’s Dave Reynolds and both saw the woman fall to the ground. 

“A few of her basketball mates started doing CPR straight away and we joined in,” said Trevor. 

“She wasn’t responsive and there was no pulse. The first lieutenant at St Arnaud was on the phone to Triple 0 getting instructions on what we had to do. We were doing about 100 chest compressions a minute and struggling to get air in.”

The St Arnaud ambulance was already en route to Bendigo with another patient, so paramedics were dispatched from Avoca, Donald, Horsham and Charlton.

Stuart Mill Fire Brigade member Naomi Medlyn was part of the basketball game that evening and the woman who dropped to the floor was her aunt.

While CPR was being performed, Naomi was thinking about defibrillators.

“I got people on their phones calling around to figure out how we could get to one. I said, ‘I need one now’ and we sent people here, there and everywhere...

“A local nurse was monitoring [the patient] and I was one of about six or seven taking a turn at CPR which was really exhausting.”

CPR was performed for 27 minutes with Naomi administering two shocks about three minutes apart once the defibrillator was delivered.

The crew felt her pulse for the first time in 20 minutes after the second shock and saw the colour flood back into her face.

A mobile intensive care ambulance paramedic from Horsham arrived and placed the woman into an induced coma.

An air ambulance landed beside the stadium and transported her to The Alfred where she was attached to their heart/lung bypass machine.

Several weeks later she was discharged from hospital with no noticeable after effects.

Ambulance Victoria Wimmera District group manager said it was an “overwhelmingly remarkable recovery". 

“Clearly the quick thinking and actions by those involved in the resuscitation efforts significantly contributed to her recovery,” he said.

“Congratulations to all those who worked so hard to give this patient a second chance at life.”

The chain of survival is a six step process that can help save the lives of people suffering sudden cardiac arrest.

“It was a horrible situation,” continued Naomi, “but events worked in [the patient’s] favour. People around her had first aid training; we were lucky that the MICA paramedic arrived from Horsham; the CPR kept her going and the defibrillator saved her life."

The six steps are:
1. recognising cardiac arrest,
2. early access to emergency care (calling Triple 0), 
3. early CPR, 
4. early defibrillation, 
5. early advanced care (paramedics) 
6. definitive care (hospital).

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