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GoodSAM responder helps save Swiss tourist’s life

February 27, 2019 | in AED, News, Patient story

A Swiss tourist visiting Melbourne has thanked paramedics and bystanders for helping save his life after he suffered a cardiac arrest in the gym of a Melbourne CBD apartment building.

Dr Christopher Portier, 62, of Switzerland, suddenly lost consciousness and collapsed while exercising in the gym about 8.30am on 19 January.

Fortunately an off-duty paramedic, Quinch Wong, who is a registered GoodSAM responder, was in the same apartment building when the call to Triple Zero (000) triggered an alert to his smartphone, waking him to the case nearby.

Patient and Paramedic with AED

He jumped out of bed and went downstairs to the gym and assisted two bystanders who had started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Moments later, an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) was found nearby in the building’s swimming pool area.

“We delivered the first shock to the patient with the community AED about the same time as the first paramedic crew arrived,” Quinch said.

As paramedics worked on Dr Portier and continued CPR and defibrillation, a MICA paramedic arrived on the scene, along with Melbourne Fire Brigade members as part of the Emergency Medical Response collaborative program.

“Compression is the most important part of resuscitation, so I helped the crews and instructed the bystanders to move the gym equipment away to ensure there was enough space,” Quinch explained.

As a team everyone worked quickly to help stabilise Dr Portier.

Using his firsthand knowledge of the building layout, Quinch helped crews to extricate Dr Portier to the ambulance so he could be transported to The Alfred hospital.

After a short stay in hospital, Dr Portier was able to return to his holiday. He is adamant that the early CPR he received at the scene from Quinch as the GoodSAM responder and the bystanders contributed to his recovery.

“I really don’t remember much,” recalls Dr Portier.

“I was on the elliptical trainer, working out as I do virtually every morning. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital.

“They saved my life and there is no hesitation about that.

“Without their CPR, given the amount of time my heart was not functioning, I would have likely had a brain injury but that does not seem to have occurred.

“I am extremely lucky these people were present and knew what to do.”

Quinch noted that early recognition, calling Triple Zero (000) and early CPR are crucial steps during a cardiac arrest.

“As a paramedic, I see cases where sometimes people can’t be resuscitated as a result of delayed bystander CPR,” he explained.

“With this case, everything just happened in the right way.”

The GoodSAM app was introduced in 2018 by Ambulance Victoria and so far over 3,700 people have registered as a trusted responder.

GoodSAM responders are health professionals or appropriately trained and qualified people who have been verified by Ambulance Victoria or a partner agency organisation.

In Victoria, GoodSAM trusted responders are only alerted to cases of suspected cardiac arrest.

While Dr Portier is not back in the gym just yet, he was able to continue his holiday and gives “profound thanks” to the GoodSAM app, paramedics and bystanders who helped saved his life.

Find out more about becoming a GoodSAM responder.

If you own a defibrillator, register it with Ambulance Victoria and it could save a life.