skip to content

GoodSAM responder and paramedics save Gisborne father

October 6, 2023 | in News, Shocktober 2023

A GoodSAM responder and paramedics have been thanked for saving the life of a Gisborne father of three, who suffered a cardiac arrest in July.

Damian Fewster, 45, asked one of his sons to call an ambulance when he returned home from the gym after developing severe chest pain. Then, he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

(L-R): AV paramedic Alison Winnall, Donna Parsons and Damian Fewster with their kids Jack, Liam and Luke, paramedics Emily Wilson and Jack Sullivan,
and GoodSAM Responder Helen Barker.

Local GoodSAM responder Helen Barker received the alert and didn’t think twice before going to help.

“I got my keys, my coat, said goodbye to my partner and just left,” she said.

“I work for a basic life support company and it’s all we teach – how important time is in survival.”

GoodSAM is a smartphone app that connects Victorians in cardiac arrest with members of the community who are willing to perform CPR in the critical minutes before paramedics arrive.

CPR and defibrillation are essential in cardiac arrest as every minute that CPR is delayed, survival decreases by 10 per cent.

When Ms Barker arrived at the scene, she found Mr Fewster alone with two of his children.

“His kids were really scared and I knew I needed to start CPR straight away,” she said.

“I’ve got two boys of a similar age and I didn’t want him to die.”

Ms Barker continued compressions until Ambulance Victoria (AV) paramedics arrived a short time later.

They applied a defibrillator and administered four shocks before achieving a return of spontaneous circulation (pulse).

GoodSAM responder Helen Barker has been thanked for helping save Damian Fewster’s life.

Mr Fewster has now made a full recovery, returning to work last month after just seven weeks off.

He was reunited with Ms Barker and the paramedics who saved him as part of Shocktober, which is an annual campaign aimed at improving cardiac arrest survival rates.

“It means a lot to meet the people who saved your life,” Mr Fewster said.

“I’m thankful for everything they did. I wouldn’t be here without them.

“I feel great. I probably feel better than I have for 10 to 15 years.”

Damian Fewster was reunited with the GoodSAM responder and paramedics who saved him,
as part of Shocktober.

AV Loddon Mallee Director Regional and Clinical Operations Matt McCrohan said Mr Fewster’s case shows anyone can make a difference, simply by learning CPR.

“Our message is simple – you don’t need to be a paramedic to save a life, just remember to Call (Triple Zero 000), Push (Perform CPR) and Shock (use an AED).”

Mr McCrohan encouraged the community to sign up to be a GoodSAM Responder to help save more Victorians.

“You don’t have to be first-aid qualified or have a medical background to sign up, you just need to be willing and able to do hands-only CPR, be over 18 years of age and have access to a smartphone,” he said.

More than 55 lives have been saved thanks to GoodSAM Responders. There are currently more than 12,000 GoodSAM Responders across the state.

Shocktober is a month-long campaign to highlight the importance of learning CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).