Equipping every CFA brigade in District 16 with a defibrillator paid off in spades when long-standing volunteer Craig Cheesman’s heart stopped during a group training exercise in October last year.
Six fellow members from CFA’s St Arnaud Group recently received a Chief Officer’s Commendation after their quick thinking saved Craig’s life.
The volunteers had all been part of a training exercise in Gre Gre on Friday, October 12, when Craig stumbled and fell down.
Gre Gre Captain Peter Knight immediately called for assistance for a medical emergency and, when Craig went into cardiac arrest, started CPR while still on the phone to Triple Zero and calling for assistance from other crews via radio.
The St Arnaud Tanker and St Arnaud Grp FCV responded quickly, bringing their on-board automated external defibrillator (AED).
St Arnaud members Simon Elliot and Dave Reynolds (An Ambulance Victoria community officer) took over from Peter and with the assistance of Tom Hamilton (Slaty Creek) continued CPR and set up the AED. They delivered two shocks and were able to get the heart to start beating again.
The first Ambulance Victoria unit arrived a few minutes later. On-duty AV Community Support Paramedic Matt Pearce, who is also a Warrak Brigade member assessed Craig and requested an Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit, two Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedics and Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).
The helicopter transported Craig to Ballarat Base Hospital in an induced coma and he did not wake up until the Tuesday.
Craig, who has since received coronary treatment under the care of a cardiologist in Ballarat, said the doctors had told him that “the work the boys did on me was the most important part”.
“Because they did such a good job, that’s what got us through. I was lucky, really.”
District 16 Operations Officer Owen Tudball commended the CFA members who banded together on the day to save their fellow member’s life with the help of Ambulance Victoria paramedics.
“There were some undeniable life-saving actions by this group performing under the added duress of direct association, in addition to the unquestionable value of providing early access/availability of a defibrillator,” he said.
“This was a fantastic example of working together, and with fellow emergency services colleagues, to achieve our mission.”
Last year, District 16 received funding through the State Government’s Enhancing Volunteerism Grants Program for its Defibrillator Project which has seen 54 defibrillators installed in tankers throughout the region.
The grant means all brigades in the district now have a defibrillator on their tanker or in their FCV vehicle and each group FCV vehicle also has one.
Read the Ararat Advertiser’s article here.