LOOKING at Jim Ellis now, it is hard to believe less than three months ago he was lying not breathing on the floor of a Hillarys cafe for 45 minutes.
On December 17, the 73-year-old had cycled to meet fellow Hash House Harriers members for their usual Saturday breakfast at Over Board Cafe. His memory of the morning is still limited.
“I remember ordering breakfast and then I just collapsed; I had a cardiac arrest,” he said.
Cafe worker Molly Coldwell (21), a nursing student, was making coffees when Mr Ellis fell backwards at the counter.
The Currambine resident said she momentarily froze before leaping into action, following emergency first aid procedure.
“The attitude that any effort is better than nothing kicked in,” she said.
“He’d gone to like a purpley-grey colour. It was pretty intense, pretty scary.”
Harriers member and former nurse Adrian McManus also rushed to his aid, starting CPR until a defibrillator arrived.
Ms Coldwell continued chest compressions for half hour.
“I think I had a lot of adrenaline in me,” she said.
“My mind was more focused on ‘keep going, he may have a chance’.”
Mr Ellis was taken by ambulance to Joondalup Health Campus, then Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where he was in an induced coma for four days.
He was discharged from hospital on December 28 after having a defibrillator implanted and said he feels mostly back to normal.
“I’ve still got a little way to go but overall it’s (the recovery) been fantastic. Every day my memory is getting better,” he said.
“I’m feeling really good now.”
This was not his first close call.
Four years ago Mr Ellis collapsed while cycling and several surf lifesavers performed CPR before he was taken to hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma and had his aortic valve replaced.
He has twice had people with first-aid training come to his rescue and realises how lucky he has been.
Mr Ellis reunited with the women who helped save his life, along with friends Jim Powell and Norm Waldie who assisted, and said he was very thankful for their efforts.
“I was pretty shaken up, I was amazed (at what they did),” he said.
Ms Coldwell said when told Mr Ellis was out of intensive care it felt “almost like closure”.
“When I found out he was ok I did have a little cry,” she said.
Despite hearing he was well and feeling prepared to see him five weeks after the accident, she found the meeting overwhelming.
“I kind of got a very cold feeling in me; I got a bit shaky, I had to take a couple of deep breaths,” she said.
“That was quite emotional to see he was actually alive and see he was really well.”