Melville: heart attack victim says thanks to St John Ambulance staff who saved her life


Dan Claes, Connie Arnold and Rhys Lewis. Picture: Jon Hewson
Dan Claes, Connie Arnold and Rhys Lewis. Picture: Jon Hewson

HAD Connie Arnold stayed home because of a migraine she would not be alive today.

The 41-year-old’s heart stopped unexpectedly when she was standing in the Melville Bowling Club’s foyer during the annual wind up of the Junior Sedans Racing Association.

Caroline Malcolm had travelled with her son from Geraldton for the event and quickly put her nursing skills into action, starting CPR on Mrs Arnold while an ambulance was called.

On board that ambulance was officer Dan Claes – about to attend his first resuscitation – and paramedic Rhys Lewis.

Back up also arrived with a Lucas 2 device to provide automated compressions.

Mrs Arnold’s heart stopped for 12 minutes before a strong pulse was found after four defibrillations.

Rushed to Fiona Stanley Hospital, she was placed in an induced coma for the weekend, before a personal defibrillator was inserted after cause for the heart attack could not be found.

Due to the length of time her brain was deprived of oxygen, and some memory loss, she also spent some time in the rehabilitation ward.

“All I remember is leaving work on Friday then being wheeled into the operating theatre and the general ward on the Saturday a week later,” Mrs Arnold said.

She returned to the bowling club today with Mrs Malcolm and husband Adam in tow to give an emotional thanks to the St John Ambulance staff.

The Melville Bowling Club now has an Automated External Defibrillator on site with staff trained in senior first aid.

For more information on first aid training visit www.stjohnambulance.com.au.

What are Lucas devices?

St John Ambulance has used Lucas devices for about three years.

They allow effective, consistent compressions to continue during transportation.

The first model required a gas cylinder; the second model has two 40-minute rechargeable batteries.

In a hospital setting, they allow room for nurses to work on both sides of the body during resuscitation.

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