Ocean Reef teachers help save colleague suffering cardiac arrest

Mark Vivian in hospital with teachers Boston Williamson, Renea Mayer, Sarah Fogliani and Marius Ndiaye.
Mark Vivian in hospital with teachers Boston Williamson, Renea Mayer, Sarah Fogliani and Marius Ndiaye.

COLLEAGUES and a defibrillator helped save an Ocean Reef teacher’s life when he went into cardiac arrest at a recent school event.

Prendiville Catholic College humanities teacher Mark Vivian suffered a sudden cardiac arrest last term, collapsing after finishing a slow jog at the end of an inter-house cross country event.

“I’d just been talking with my colleague, Renea Mayer, when she turned around for a few seconds to talk to a student; when she turned back to me I was on the ground,” he said.

Four teachers worked to save the grandfather, with two taking turns to perform CPR, one calling an ambulance and another running to get the defibrillator.

Off-duty police officer and Prendiville parent Paul McDonagh also helped the teachers with CPR.

“They saved my life,” Mr Vivian said.

“I am so grateful for the teamwork, proficiency and composure shown by my colleagues Marius Ndiaye, Renea Mayer, Sarah Fogliani and Boston Williamson, because CPR is something that you can’t do on your own for long.”

Mr Vivian said the school encouraged all teachers to participate in a first-aid training course every year.

He said he appreciated the generosity and foresight shown by the Prendiville Parents & Friends Association when it donated three defibrillators to the college and was touched by the concern and love shown by his principal and deputies.

“They accompanied me to the hospital and kept in regular contact,” he said.

The teacher also thanked ambulance officers and staff on the coronary care unit at Joondalup Health Campus. Hospital cardiology director Jenny Deague said the quick actions of Prendiville staff had saved Mr Vivian.

“You could not have asked for a more perfect resuscitation; they did an unbelievably good job,” Professor Deague said.

In hospital, cardiologist Justin Ng implanted Mr Vivian with an ICD device, which sits just under the skin and combines a pacemaker and defibrillator.

“This device means that if Mark’s heart ever stops again, he will receive a near-immediate shock to get it going,” Dr Ng said.

Prof Deague, who is also on the National Heart Foundation board, said it was a timely reminder of the importance of early resuscitation.

“Early CPR can make the difference between life and death in sudden cardiac arrest, so the main thing to remember is to take action quickly and start chest compressions – you don’t need to worry about how many breaths and how many compressions, you just need to get started,” she said.

“Fear of getting it wrong can sometimes stop a bystander from commencing CPR.

“This year nearly 30,000 Australians could die from cardiac arrest because too few bystanders have basic CPR skills.”

Prof Deague said if a person became unconscious and was not breathing, the current recommended steps were:

1. Call for help – yell loudly to those around you to call for an ambulance and locate the nearest automated external defibrillator

2. Start chest compressions – with the palm of your hand push hard and fast in the centre of the chest.

3. Continue chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute – that’s about two compressions every second (think to the beat of the song ‘Staying Alive’) until a defibrillator is located or the ambulance arrives.