“He was the colour of my best shiraz.”
Margaret River dentist and winemaker George Heydon shared a few jokes with Bunbury man Ray Winwood in town last week, but the reason for the pair’s second meeting was a more serious first encounter.
Mr Winwood was driving through Margaret River in the late afternoon in April when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest behind the wheel of his vehicle, causing the car and trailer to crash near the Margarets Forest Holiday Apartments on Bussell Highway.
Luckily for Mr Winwood, several quick thinking bystanders, including Mr Heydon, leapt into action and performed lifesaving CPR while another passerby called ambulance services.
St John Ambulance Margaret River community paramedic Dane Hendry said the actions of Mr Heydon and the other attendees, as well as the quick response by ambulance officers, assisted in Mr Winwood’s survival and recovery.
“Ray has been saved through a combination of immediate bystander CPR, early defibrillation and transport to an appropriate tertiary hospital,” he said.
Two volunteer ambulance crews and the community paramedic arrived on scene shortly after the accident and applied two shocks from the defibrillator, after Mr Heydon and two off duty ambulance officers quickly pulled Mr Winwood from the vehicle and began CPR.
“I just jumped into action, it’s a bit of an autopilot situation where your training comes into play and you just do what needs to be done,” Mr Heydon said of the dramatic experience, stressing the importance of knowing lifesaving techniques.
“This has actually happened to me on four occasions, I have used my first aid and CPR training to help three others.”
Mr Heydon said while one of the CPR attempts was unfortunately not able to save a life, the number of times his skills have been called into play showed the value of CPR training.
“I would encourage anyone of any age and any line of work to make sure they have these skills and know what to do in a situation such as this one,” he said.
“It really is one of the most important things you can learn in your life.”
Mr Winwood said his job in the construction industry required him to achieve a number of courses and certificates, yet first aid was rarely a required course for worksites.
“It’s ridiculous, when you think about all the chances there are on a job site for a serious accident or a heart attack to occur, and yet there’s no guarantee anyone around will have an idea of what to do,” he said.
“I’ve done my first aid course years ago, but as soon as the doctor says I am recovered enough to do another course I’ll be refreshing my memory so I can help others.”
Mr Hendry said the incident highlighted the quality of urgent medical care in the region as well as the need to support local emergency responders.
“We praise the people who came to his aid, and the great care he received at Margaret River Hospital to stabilise him before he was transported to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth via the RAC Rescue helicopter,” he said.
“We are just delighted to see him doing so well, it’s very rewarding for us.
“FIrst aid made all the difference in saving Ray’s life, and we believe it’s vitally important knowledge.
“We urge all Western Australians to book into a St John course so they can know what to do in a situation just like this.”
Mr Winwood said he was extremely grateful to Mr Heydon, the Margaret River St John Ambulance service and locals who helped him return home less than a week after he arrived at Fiona Stanley Hospital.
“It is hard to put into words, but I am just truly so thankful and feel very lucky that I had a combination of things go right so I could be out of hospital quickly,” he said.
“One of the local fireys who was attending the scene also took my dog Bonnie and made sure she was safe until a family member was able to drive down and collect her.
“I just want to thank the people of Margaret River and all the others who helped me on that day.”
For information on first aid courses, call St John Ambulance Margaret River on 9757 3333 or visit www.changelives.stjohnambulance.com.au