Sunday, September 6, 2009

Father's day

It's funny how today can start out like every other Sunday, and then give you an experience so surreal you're unlikely to forget it for a very long time.

Tonight Ryan and I were going to dinner at a friends' place in Brunswick. We thought the invitation was for 6.30pm, so were still getting ready when Ryan double-checked the invitation and realised it was for 6ish. By this stage we realised we were running a bit late, so Ryan volunteered to duck to the bottleshop around the corner from our house to grab a couple of bottles of wine while I dried my hair.

About 10 minutes later I'd finished drying my hair and Ryan still wasn't back. I thought maybe he hadn't left as soon as I'd started drying my hair, or maybe he'd spent a while deliberating over which wines to get... or maybe he'd gotten into a conversation with the guy at the bottleshop. I was mildly annoyed because we were already late and I was ready to go.

Another 10 minutes passed and I started trying to work out how long he'd been gone for. I thought I worked out that he must have been gone for at least 20-25 minutes... that can't be right...check the watch again. I started to get a bit anxious and then realised he didn't have his phone on him. I paced up and down a few times then went downstairs - surely he must be walking up the driveway by now?

I looked out the door. No Ryan. Then the sound of a siren close by. That sounds quite close. But again, it didn't really register because we hear sirens all the time around here. Nothing could have happened to Ryan - he just went around the corner to get some wine. He didn't even have to cross the road or anything, and I didn't hear car crash noises or anything that would make me think anything had happened.

I went downstairs again, because I was getting really anxious by now, and looked down the driveway. This time a figure comes sprinting up from the dark, and it's Ryan. He ran up to me, covered in sweat and blurts out that he's just been giving CPR to someone on the footpath for the last 10 minutes, he thinks he broke about 4 of the guy's ribs, that the ambulance is here now, and can I call our friends to let them know what's happened and that we'll be late. He said he's going to go back and to come out after I've called our friends.

So I went out onto the street, and a few doors up is an ambulance and a fire truck with its floodlight directed down to this middle-aged guy on the footpath, with about 3 ambulance officers and at least a couple of emergency firefighters. Ryan's got his arms around some poor girl (Claire) about my age, and I find out it's her father. They'd been driving home after what I can only assume was a father's day outing and he'd started having a fit in the car. She pulled over in our street and the first Ryan knew of it was hearing a gurgling noise and the girl calling for help.

The ambulance officers have the guy hooked up to a heart-rate monitor and are giving him CPR and shots of adrenaline. He's got the manual ventilator tube down his throat so you can clearly see his face, which is deathly grey and his eyes are open and glazed. We're all watching on, and watching the heart-rate monitor, hoping for some kind of heart-rate on there each time they use the defibrillator. It seems like a really long time that this is going on. I think they tried the defibrillator at least 3 or 4 times while I was watching. At this stage I'm pretty sure the guy is unlikely to make it, and then a really weak and erratic heart-beat shows up on the monitor. We all stand around, intensely watching the monitor, willing the beats per minute up. It makes it up to about 39bpm and slowly climbs to about 45.

Eventually he seems to stabilise at around 49bpm and they decide it's time to move him into the ambulance and take him to emergency.

At this point, we're still late for dinner, still don't have the wine.... what do we do? It seems trivial to walk off now and buy wine for a nice dinner, but what else can you do? Ryan, still shaken goes home for a shower and I grab his wallet and continue on to the bottleshop around the corner. I walk in, dazed and realise I only have $30 in cash and since it's not my wallet, don't have any access to eftpos or visa. It takes me forever to calculate which 2 bottles I can get for under $30 and I think the woman behind the counter must have thought there was something wrong with me that I couldn't do basic maths.

So I end up driving to our friend's place and Ryan and I had a bit of a talk about what happened. I asked him how he went with remembering CPR. Turns out he'd never done a first aid course and didn't know CPR at all apart from what he'd seen on tv.

I think it's fairly safe to say that he'll be getting his first aid certification pretty soon after we get back from our trip.

You really never know when you might need it.

So I think this is a timely reminder to brush up on your first aid knowledge. Do a course, or a refresher course if you've done one before.

I'm really proud that Ryan handled things as well as he did, and even though he was completely shaken by the whole experience I'm fairly sure that if something like that happened again he'd be a lot more confident in dealing with the situation.

I really hope the guy is ok and lives to see many more fathers days....

St John's Ambulance


  1. Wow...OMG...That would've been completely surreal. Kudos to Ryan for thinking on the spot, he no doubt saved that guy's life. It's pretty sobering to think about too...

    Anyway, according to emergency workers, the deal is that doing something is better than doing nothing at all. So even if Ryan did break some of the guy's ribs, he was still better off.

  2. Yeah that's what I told him as well. Luckily he had some idea that breaking ribs could happen, but I think would have been unpleasant all the same.

    Sadly we found out today that Andrew passed away. From what I can gather from what Ryan said happened, I daresay he had a massive stroke and the damage had been done before Ryan even got to him.

  3. Oh - that is really sad. I just read your comment above. Imagine that that news knocks everyone for another six.


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