THERE'S no doubt in the mind of Iluka man Max Connell that without the quick actions of a small group of lawn bowlers and a relatively inexpensive electronic device, he would now be dead.
On Wednesday, September 26, Mr Connell was enjoying a game of bowls at the Iluka Bowling Club when everything went black.
The fit and seemingly healthy retiree had no idea at the time but he had just suffered a massive heart attack.
"To be quite frank I had no idea what happened - I can only go on what other people tell me, so apparently I simply collapsed while I was playing bowls, there was no warning whatsoever it was about to happen," Mr Connell said.
"I immediately lost consciousness, there's just nothing in my mind about what happened after that."
Fortunately for Mr Connell a few of his fellow bowlers knew CPR and the club was also equipped with a portable defibrillator unit. A combination of CPR and the use of the defib unit kept Mr Connell alive until medical help arrived in the form of Iluka doctor David Richards and paramedics from Maclean.
Mr Connell was then transferred by the Westpac Helicopter to Lismore Base Hospital, then to the John Flynn Hospital's specialist cardiac unit for medical treatment. Dr Richards said there was little chance Mr Connell would have survived it if it was not for the portable defib unit and the quick-thinking onlookers who knew CPR.
Mr Connell said the next thing he remembered was waking up in hospital to the very relieved faces of his wife, Lyn, and his daughter.
"The doctors weren't sure if I'd suffered brain damage or not so when I woke up I think my wife and daughter were more relieved than I was - they didn't know what I'd be like," he said. "But I was really lucky and I seem to have gotten away with it."
During his stay in hospital, Mr Connell was fitted with a pacemaker-like device which will hopefully prevent another heart attack in the future.
Now home again and feeling much better, Mr Connell said he was extremely grateful to the people who performed CPR and grateful the club had a defib unit.
Portable defibrillator units like the one which saved Max Connell's life are now widely available, straight-forward to use and relatively inexpensive.
Basic units can be bought for less than $1500 with more advanced models scaling up in price from there.
They can be purchased online or through local first aid suppliers.
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