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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Outdoor lighting helps save Heathcote grandfather

Paramedics say a Heathcote man’s decision to turn the outside lights on and open the front door while waiting for an ambulance made a big difference in the outcome of his health emergency.

Tony Ager, 75, realised something was wrong when he began experiencing bad chest pain late at night in December last year. 

“I wondered what was going on, but it didn’t bother me that much – then all of a sudden it started to get worse,” the grandfather explained. 

“I was sitting on the edge of the bed and just hoping it would go away. 

“But it got worse and worse, so I rang my daughter and said… ‘you’d better get the ambulance around here, I think I’m having a heart attack’.” 

Ambulance Victoria (AV) paramedic, Jeremy Cavedon was first on the scene, alongside Heathcote Ambulance Community Officer (ACO) Nathan Rogers. 

Jeremy said they were relieved to be able to spot Tony’s rural property in the dark, thanks to the outdoor lights. 

“The place was in the middle of nowhere on a dirt track,” Jeremy said. 

“Being able to see the property from the road, especially given the fact that a lot of those driveways can be quite hidden in the dead of night, allowed us to drive straight up. 

“It’s a reminder of how important it is to make sure property numbers and entrances are visible and well lit, so we don’t waste time trying to locate the right house.” 

The AV crew realised Tony was having a heart attack but while they were beginning treating him, and while Nathan was getting something from the ambulance, Tony collapsed in cardiac arrest. 

“Luckily, I was able to defibrillate him straight away because we already had the equipment in place,” Jeremy said. 

“I dragged him onto the ground and began CPR, then after another shock from the defib and another round of CPR, he came back.” 

Jeremy and Nathan were supported by two Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedics, and Jeremy said it was a fantastic show of how the different operational roles within AV work together. 

“Firstly, the ACOs are invaluable in our communities,” he said. 

“If I’d been at this by myself, I couldn’t have done half the stuff that we did before Tony arrested, let alone all the stuff that happened afterwards. 

“And once the MICA team turned up it also made the job a lot easier – having the extra level of care and also just the extra hands.” 

ACOs are First Responders who are trained to provide advanced first aid in rural and remote areas.

Just a few months later, Tony was able to thank the AV crew that saved his life.

Tony was taken to the Austin Hospital, where he only had to spend three days before being allowed to return home.

He said for the most part, he has fully recovered.

“I’m a bit short of breath every now and then, and I get tired quickly, but I see a local doctor and a cardiologist and they seem to be happy with my progress,” he said.

“I just want to thank the paramedics for saving my life.

“I’m so appreciative of what they do.

“I don’t want to fall off the perch yet, I’ve got too much to do.”

Heathcote is one of 12 towns across Victoria currently completing the Heart Safe Community program – a joint initiative between AV and the Heart Foundation that equips locals with skills to take life-saving action when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

“The program is about boosting confidence in performing CPR and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – because when a cardiac arrest patient receives CPR and a shock from an AED before paramedics arrive, their chance of survival more than doubles,” Jeremy said. 

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