By Aleksandra Bliszczyk
A Pyalong man who was resuscitated during cardiac arrest last month has been reunited with the paramedic who helped save his life – who also happens to be his next-door neighbour.
Lloyd Robinson, 73, was chopping fallen trees and loose branches on his five-acre property with his 33-year-old son Matt Robinson following the June 9 storm, when he went into cardiac arrest – though he remembers nothing of the event.
“Matt said he turned around and I was on one knee and he asked if I was alright, I said yes, he’s gone back to cutting it, he’s turned around again and I’m on the ground,” Mr Robinson said.
“I thought he might’ve just been short of breath, a dizzy spell, and next thing you know it’s CPR, calling triple zero,” Matt said.
Luckily Matt had learnt cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, in the past as a work requirement and was able to perform it on his father after calling for an ambulance.
Although he had the training, he had never performed CPR before.
“You learn it and you always think you’ll never have to do it, but it’s always good to know it. The training that I have done over the years has definitely paid dividends,” Matt said.
While administering the laborious chest compressions on his own, Matt stayed on the line as the operator gave him updates on the ambulance’s location.
“After about six or seven minutes I’d been on the phone they said it was still 20 kilometres away and I was trying to do the math in my head,” Matt said.
It was at that point that off-duty paramedic, CFA volunteer and next-door neighbour Brian Moffat, who received an alert about a nearby emergency via the GoodSAM responder app on his phone, jumped the fence and was able to take over CPR.
GoodSAM is a smartphone app that connects Victorians in cardiac arrest with people who know CPR and automated external defibrillators, AEDs, in the critical minutes before paramedics arrive.
“Brian turned up and I had no idea who he was,” Matt said.
Mr Robinson and his partner Deb Blitz had only moved to the area five months earlier and were yet meet their neighbours.
Mr Moffat handed Ms Blitz his phone and told her to ring his fellow CFA volunteers who lived closeby. Four arrived to help, one with an automated external defibrillator.
“We were able to give him one shock and it put his heart back in a normal rhythm again,” Mr Moffat said.
Mr Moffat said that Matt, who works in land management, would make a stellar paramedic.
“For someone who I’d never met before, we worked very, very well together. I think he missed his calling,” he said.
Every day about 18 Victorians suffer a cardiac arrest and only one in 10 survive.
But Mr Moffat said Mr Robinson’s chances of survival were good because he had CPR performed consistently until the ambulance arrived.
He now wants to spread the word to encourage people to learn CPR and download the GoodSAM app.
“That’s an important part of the chain having the ambulance, but those first few minutes – they’re absolutely critical,” Mr Moffat said.
In metropolitan areas, GoodSAM responders receive an alert if they are within 500 metres of the person in cardiac arrest, and in remote or regional areas, within five kilometres.
Since the app’s launch in 2018, more than 50 lives have been saved thanks to GoodSAM responders, and so far more than 14,000 Victorians have signed up.
“Anyone can save a life by downloading the GoodSAM app and knowing how to perform chest compressions or CPR,” Mr Moffat said.
“I’d certainly love to see some more GoodSAM responders in the area.
“We are isolated, the nearest ambulance station here is Kilmore and that’s where the first ambulance arrived from so that was probably around 17 minutes, which is about right.”
Mr Robinson was flown by air ambulance from Pyalong Cricket Oval to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he was admitted to the coronary care unit. He was discharged within the week.
Now back at home, Mr Robinson said he felt very lucky.
“It’s good to be alive,” he said.
“It’s just amazing how it went. I remember nothing; when I woke up I was in the helicopter.”
The couple said they were ‘blown away’ by the number of people who helped, including a group of neighbours who repaired their fence after it had to be cut to make room for the ambulance.
“It was absolutely amazing to see everyone working together,” Ms Blitz said.
“They had to cut the fence to get Lloyd to the ambulance and some other neighbours, I don’t even know who they are, fixed my fence by lunchtime the next day.”
People can register as a GoodSAM responder by downloading the free app. Visit www.heartrestarter.com.au for information on GoodSAM, including how to sign-up and to watch free training videos explaining hands-only CPR and how to use an AED.