Team effort saves life of teen basketballer
March 5, 2023News in
When 16-year-old Jasper Wickes collapsed during basketball training one Sunday evening in January this year, his teammates thought he was joking around because he had been beaten to the ball.
It took a few moments for the South End Spirit players gathered at Hoop Culture in Carrum Downs to recognise their tallest teammate was not ‘playing’—in fact, he was losing his life.
The star defender, who had no prior medical conditions, had started seizing and with gasped breaths up to 20 seconds apart, he soon went into cardiac arrest in front of the stunned crowd.
The countdown clock was on.
Jasper giving the thumbs up while recovering at Monash Hospital.
It was Jasper’s coach of four years, Hayden Jardine, who “immediately recognised something wasn’t right” thanks to years of training as a former security guard.
With a spectator calling Triple Zero (000) and emergency services dispatched, Hayden tried to help Jasper breathe while checking for a heartrate and answering the call taker’s questions.
“He was lying there with his eyes wide open, completely unresponsive. It is not something you’d expect from an active teenager,” Hayden recalled.
“At one point I looked up and could see the boys watching on and the (scared) look on all their faces.”
Jasper (L) together with coach Hayden (R). Hayden immediately recognised something wasn’t right when he saw Jasper on the floor gasping for air.
It was then that GoodSAM responder Jess Purcell came running onto the court. It was a chaotic scene and with Hayden performing mouth to mouth, she had no idea the person she was about to give chest compressions to was a teenager.
GoodSAM is a life-saving app that connects patients in cardiac arrest with a nearby volunteer who are willing to start hands-only CPR while an ambulance is on the way.
Remarkably, Jess had registered to be a GoodSAM responder a few days earlier and had only received email confirmation of her GoodSAM accreditation on the morning of Jasper’s cardiac arrest.
Jess, who knew CPR after years of attending Scouts, had been at a dance studio 200 meters down the road when her watch buzzed with a notification.
“When I saw it, I thought it was a practice notification or something, because I had only just signed up to GoodSAM,” Jess said.
“I opened my phone and realised it was real, it was happening; I ran outside and saw someone standing on the street for emergency services and I could hear the sirens in the background, so I just started running.”
Fire Rescue Victoria responded to the emergency, as well as Ambulance Victoria Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedics Kate Dalrymple, MICA student Chloe Abel and Advanced Life Support paramedics Anna Janssen, James Munro and Matt Teofilo.
Chloe said Jasper’s team of heroes, including Hayden and Jess, helped get the ball rolling on ‘the chain of survival’ through early bystander intervention and contributed to saving his life.
“Jasper was incredibly lucky everything aligned for him. It was a real team effort that helped save his life,” Chloe said.
“He showed good signs of stability immediately post cardiac arrest, and he’s gone on to make a quick recovery. If that cardiac arrest happened somewhere else—where there was no-one around—we know it is most likely would have been a different outcome.
“I’ve been a paramedic for more than 10 years and I can count on one hand the times where everything has lined up like that. You couldn’t have asked for a better response.
“This young person is going to go on to live a normal life and that outcome is something that everyone should be incredibly proud of.”
Jasper is thankful to everyone especially his coach Hayden, GoodSAM responder Jess Purcell, as well as the MICA paramedics who came to his aid when he went into cardiac arrest during basketball training.
Jasper’s mother Simone said her son’s traumatic event had come as a shock.
“Jasper is a basketballer; he’s fit, he’s healthy, he’s happy and we never expected this could have happened,” she said.
“We can’t thank everyone enough. When Jasper arrived at the hospital, they kept saying the paramedics were truly amazing and everything they did for him gave him the best chance of survival.
“Every time he sees a paramedic or an ambulance now, he salutes them.”
Jasper was fitted with a pacemaker a few days after his cardiac arrest and spent 15 days recovering at Monash Hospital. In a whirlwind month, he was discharged and has even eased his way into starting Year 11.
“Life is precious,” Jasper said.
“I feel very supported knowing that so many people stepped in to help me, right there in the middle of basketball training.
“I imagine it would have been a shock to everyone there.
“I’m very thankful for what everyone did. They’re heroic.”
With one more heart surgery on the horizon, Jasper hopes to continue his recovery and work towards returning to the court.
In the meantime, coach Hayden has handed over the reins and let Jasper be coach during training so that he is still part of the team.
“The first time he coached he dressed up in a suit do it,” Hayden said.
GoodSAM responder Jess said the knowledge that early bystander intervention had saved Jasper’s life was enough to bring her to tears.
“I am encouraging everyone to sign up and become a GoodSAM responder,” she said.
You don’t need to be a paramedic to be a life saver, you just have to be willing to give hands-only CPR. Anyone who is over 18, is familiar with CPR and has a smartphone can download the free GoodSAM app.