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Ray’s lifesaving CPR experience
As a volunteer for 14 years, Rowville Fire Brigade’s Ray Ben has trained in first aid. He did a one-day St John Ambulance first aid refresher course earlier this year, brushing up on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other potentially life-saving skills with the hope of never needing to use them.
“Unfortunately I had a firsthand experience a few weeks ago where I did have to use it, and this is something I will never forget,” said Ray, keen to relay his story widely within both CFA and St John.
“We were visiting our best friends who had just moved to Echuca. After a relaxing day exploring the town we went back to the house and were making dinner plans when suddenly my mate Robert collapsed into his lap while sitting on the couch. He was unconscious, not breathing, non-responsive and immediately started turning blue.
“The serenity of a lovely day suddenly turned to chaos.
“My father-in-law Tom Louws and I immediately pulled Rob off the couch onto the ground but still no response, and the blue was spreading to the rest of his limp body which was an eerie cold feeling.
“I called Triple 0 and was told to immediately start CPR. They stayed on the phone with us and helped us keep the rhythm. I was guided through 30 compressions to two breaths, and my father in-law administered the breaths while I caught my own breath after compressions. I could hear and feel his chest bones breaking under my hands but was told to keep going.
“In training we did just two or three rounds of chest compressions and felt exhausted but here the adrenaline kicked in. Rob occasionally took a few breaths on his own but this only lasted for five to 10 seconds, so we continued CPR for 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
“They immediately connected a defibrillator which confirmed VF – ventricular fibrillation – and a shock was administered. A faint pulse was found and he was taken to Echuca Base Hospital Code 1. There he was classed as stable but critical and given intravenous medication to support a stable heartbeat. They suspected a cardiac arrest but, as Echuca did not have the equipment to diagnose or care for a person in Rob's condition, a video conference was organised with a clinician and it was decided to airlift him to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he was placed in the intensive care unit.
See Rob, Ray and Tom's story on Channel 7 News here.
“A series of scans and tests began to try and determine exactly what happened, the cause, and what can be done to prevent this in future.
“I have since been told he was probably clinically dead three times through those 20 minutes and the resuscitation rate for someone in his position is very rare.”
Rob was in hospital for a week. One week ago he had surgery to implant a defibrillator and is now out of hospital and recovering slowly. He will be off work for some weeks and is not allowed to drive for six months.
“This may be the only time I ever use my CPR training but I will remember this experience for the rest of my life and be an advocate for first aid training,” continued Ray. “You never expect that you will need to use this training, especially on your best mate, but I am so glad I did my refresher in May this year.
“Thank you to CFA for putting me through this. Now I’m also first-aid accredited at my workplace.
“Thanks to St John for running the training."