Critical care paramedic Amy Gomes reunites with patient Sherie Oakley, ten years after she saved her life.
Critical care paramedic Amy Gomes reunites with patient Sherie Oakley, ten years after she saved her life.

Emotional reunion with paramedics who saved her life

TEN years ago, Sherie Oakley woke up and something just felt off.

The diabetic thought it was her blood sugar playing up but she then started sweating profusely and had a mild pain in her chest.

She hesitated calling Triple Zero and then tried to dismiss paramedics when they arrived to treat her, not thinking she needed to go to hospital.

After some convincing from paramedics Amy Gomes and Angela Perry, she got in the ambulance with them on the way to Ipswich Hospital.

"She looked very unwell but I remember her observations were all fairly normal," Ms Gomes said.

"It took some convincing. At that stage some of our cardiac investigations were in their infancy but we knew something significant was happening."

As she worked at the hospital, Ms Oakley knew the route and said the last thing she remembers was pulling into the driveway.

"She went into lethal arrhythmias but was still conscious and talking to me," Ms Gomes said.

"She said 'I feel fine.'

"I knew that was a very limited time frame she was going to feel like that. She had just gone into cardiac arrest and became unconscious."

Ms Oakley spent the next day in hospital before being transferred to the Princess Alexandra Hospital, where she stayed for a week.

 

Paramedic Angela Perry (left) and critical care paramedic Amy Gomes reunited with patient Sherie Oakley ten years after they saved her life.
Paramedic Angela Perry (left) and critical care paramedic Amy Gomes reunited with patient Sherie Oakley ten years after they saved her life.

 

It was an emotional reunion for the three on Friday morning, a decade on from the incident which so nearly didn't have a happy ending.

Ms Oakley, 59, wants to use her story to encourage others to make the call for help as soon as something doesn't quite feel right.

"I wasn't in a great deal of pain so I suppose the most important thing is if it's unusual, and if it's any chest pain at all, don't hesitate," she said.

"If I had just let it go, I wouldn't be here today."

Ms Gomes said women can sometimes have "abnormal symptoms" for cardiac arrest.

"They can have what they call silent heart attacks, so they don't always have textbook symptoms," she said.

"Some people have very minor chest pain and think it's not fitting the crushing chest pain they hear about on TV. Diabetics can also have some unusual symptoms.

"People just need to trust in themselves that something's wrong … if anyone has any sort of chest pain, they need to seek medical attention and call QAS immediately."

Ms Perry is now officer in charge of the Lowood station and Ms Gomes is a critical care paramedic based in Brisbane.

Ms Gomes was only in the infancy of a now decade long career with the Queensland Ambulance Service.

"I saw (Ms Oakley) fairly soon afterwards and I think she was still trying to piece together what had happened," she said.

"I think it's important closure for patients to be able to ask us questions.

"It's quite moving, to be honest, to actually see her walking and be so healthy.

"I think she's going to be a great advocate for people to trust in how they feel."
Ms Gomes said QAS was leading the way internationally for cardiac car.

"We do things here in Queensland that countries aren't even looking into doing," she said.

"We have relationships with hospitals and with cardiac units and with the cath lab that other places could only dream of.

"The outcomes and the statistics are exceptional for the QAS."

She urged people to call for help as soon as something feels off.

"It's heartbreaking when we attend pre-hospital cardiac arrests and the family tells us they've had chest pain all day,' she said.

"We usually don't get positive outcomes in those cases."



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