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Sunbury mother thanks paramedics, colleagues and firefighters

October 24, 2019 | in Community News

A teacher who suffered a cardiac arrest at work has thanked her colleagues, the paramedics and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) for saving her life.

Jaz Jessop was at work on July 29 when she suddenly felt unwell and collapsed at Sunbury And Macedon Ranges Specialist School.

First on scene were Jaz’s colleagues who initiated effective Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) before the on-site Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was used.

An AED is used to analyse a person’s heart rhythm and if required, it can shock a person’s heart back into a functioning rhythm.

Jaz has been a Performing Arts Therapist for more than 30 years and had just finished teaching three classes at the school when she suddenly felt dizzy.

“I had been dancing for three sessions, but thought I had only taught one class. I don’t remember the moments just before the arrest other than feeling sick – my colleague Heather, who was one of the first on scene said after I had collapsed, she immediately checked for a pulse and then started CPR,” Jaz said.

“Apparently my main concern when I woke up was that I was very concerned there had been children in the room – but was reassured they didn’t see anything – I was also talking to the paramedics and one of my sons but don’t have any memory of this,” she said.

Ambulance Victoria Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) Paramedic Stephen Hollowood said the bystanders’ quick thinking, effective CPR and using the AED, all contributed to a positive outcome.

“We really commend Heather and all the bystanders involved who quickly recognised that CPR needed to be done and immediately started effective chest compressions,” Stephen said.

“Pre-hospital care in Victoria is world class, but it all starts when a bystander steps in and starts compressions. Once someone starts CPR, the chances of survival for a cardiac arrest doubles,” he said.

A cardiac arrest occurs when a person’s heart suddenly stops beating.

Stephen said that early CPR and defibrillation are critical steps that help save the lives of people in sudden cardiac arrest.

“Anyone can save a life in three simple steps.  Call, Push, Shock: Call Triple Zero (000), Push Hard, Push Fast on the middle of the chest, shock using an AED,” he said.

“The bystanders on that day certainly exemplified these steps, which no doubt contributed towards Jaz’s survival.”

An AED is a light weight, battery operated, portable device.

“You may have already seen AEDs in other places you have visited, including shopping centres, sporting clubs, gyms, and even workplaces – like in this case,” Stephen said.

“Anyone can use an AED. If someone is in cardiac arrest and an AED is available then simply open it and follow the instructions. They are safe to use and will not allow a shock to be given unless necessary.”

Stephen said an exciting initiative was the recently introduced GoodSAM App, which alerts people when a 000 call is made for a nearby suspected cardiac arrest.

“All Victorian adults with first-aid training now have the chance to save lives by downloading the GoodSAM Responder app and registering as a Responder,” Stephen said.

“The life-saving GoodSAM smartphone app connects Victorians in cardiac arrest with first-aid-qualified responders and defibrillators in the critical minutes before paramedics arrive.”

Ambulance Victoria paramedics Stephen, Alex, Lauren and Samantha said the result of Jaz’s case was incredible.

“This was a fantastic outcome for Jaz, and really and truly, is a good example of the positive difference that bystander CPR and applying an AED can make – it’s amazing,” Stephen said.

Jaz spent time in Sunshine Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) before being discharged in less than a week.

She had a defibrillator inserted that is affectionately known as ‘sparky’.

Jaz returned to work in September and is looking forward to spending time with her two adult sons.

“I can’t thank my colleagues and the paramedics enough for their help on that day – because of them I have no deficits including no brain or artery damage,” Jaz said.

“I love the paramedics to pieces.”

In some parts of Victoria, fire services are also dispatched.