CLOSE CALL: QAS Chief Superintendent Director for Wide Bay Russell Cooke and his cousin and her daughter helped save the life of a family friend at a recent wedding in Toowoomba.
CLOSE CALL: QAS Chief Superintendent Director for Wide Bay Russell Cooke and his cousin and her daughter helped save the life of a family friend at a recent wedding in Toowoomba. Geordi Offord

Family of medical workers save man's life at wedding

FOR Queensland Ambulance Service Chief Superintendent Director Russell Cooke, it's not uncommon to be shown or asked about spots, cuts or ailments or help with falls at events.

When he attended a cousin's wedding in Toowoomba on June 22, he helped save a life.

He, his cousin and former paramedic Katrina Ferguson and her daughter, emergency nurse Chloe Ferguson, helped save the life of 69-year-old Buddy Tattam, a friend of the family.

The keen campdrafter came close to death after choking on food at the family function.

Russell said he never expected such an incident.

"I was talking to a few people (at the wedding) and people started to yell an elderly person had fallen over," he said.

"I went over and I saw Buddy gasping and losing consciousness and I thought it was likely he was choking, so I tried to remove the obstruction with back blows but there was no avail.

"I was then joined by Katrina and Buddy lost consciousness so we commenced CPR and the ambulance was also called." The pair were then joined by Chloe.

"We couldn't hear sirens so we knew the ambulance wasn't close yet so we continue chest thrusts," Russell said.

"A large piece of steak became visible and it would disappear, Chloe has small hands so she was able to remove the item and we were able to resuscitate Buddy quickly.

Chloe said: "My sister came out to me and said 'Chloe I think you should go outside, someone is choking'.

"I saw Russell trying a Heimlich manoeuvre and Buddy went blue in the face and hands so we started CPR.

"Mum tried to blow in his mouth to dislodge what was in there and then we did lateral chest compressions and with that I was able to put my hand in his throat and feel what was there and dislodge it."

Chloe said they were glad the incident had a good outcome.

"I am so stoked we were able to help him," she said.

"I'm glad we were all there and nothing terrible happened."

Buddy said he did not know much about what happened until he was in hospital.

"When I started to choke I knew I was in trouble," he said.

"I didn't know where the toilets were so I went outside and and young guy out there asked if I was all right.

"I couldn't talk so I just shook my head and I put my arms out and he caught me before I fell into the bushes.

"I didn't know how close I was until after when someone told me how bad it was. I'm pleased the nurse (Chloe) had small hands."

He said it was lucky there were people around who knew what action to take.

"I never ever thought something like that would happen," he said.

Buddy spent time in hospital recovering after the incident and is now back at his home in St George.

"I'm going back to the doctor soon, I'm hoping to back on the horse soon," he said.

"I've missed two drafts, but there are plenty more to come, I'm just pleased to be OK."

Both Chloe and Russell said incidents such as these showed why it was important to learn first aid.

"Just knowing basic first aid skills and CPR as well as some manoeuvres come in handy," Chloe said.

"Even at venues, knowing where to find a first aid and AED kits is really handy as well."



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