LUCKY BREAK: Peter Brady, 58, and partner Vicky Thurgood, 56, want to raise awareness on the importance of defibrillators in the workplace after Peter survived - by -chance- cardiac arrest at work in May.
LUCKY BREAK: Peter Brady, 58, and partner Vicky Thurgood, 56, want to raise awareness on the importance of defibrillators in the workplace after Peter survived - by -chance- cardiac arrest at work in May. Tara Miko

Shock to heart saves man's life: 'It's damn lucky I made it'

THREE months before Peter Brady was left with brain damage after going into cardiac arrest at his workplace, he did a first aid course which ultimately saved his life.

Not so much for the CPR but the conversation that followed on the importance of getting a defibrillator installed on the factory floor.

Mr Brady, then 57, was nearing the end of his shift at Stahmann Farms on McDougall St when, about 1.45am on May 24, he collapsed to the floor.

He doesn't remember it, or the three months that led up to the attack, but as he continues his recovery and rehabilitation from an hypoxic brain injury, it's dawning on him how lucky he was.

"I can't even tell you what it feels like to have (a defibrillator) on, or get zapped by one," Mr Brady said.

"I knew we had a defib onsite but I wasn't planning on getting it used on me."

His partner Vicky Thurgood remembers everything about that morning and how "everything just sort of aligned" to help Mr Brady survive.

Immediate CPR from Mr Brady's workmate Dwayne Chin was effective in the first few minutes but as critical care paramedics later said, it was the defibrillator that saved a life.

The nearest ambulance station was around the corner on Bridge St in Torrington.

"It was the defib that saved his life and the foresight of the company, Stahmann Farms, to actually get it installed," Ms Thurgood, 56, said.

"There's only five per cent of people who will make it after cardiac arrest.

"Everything just sort of aligned. It happened about quarter to two in the morning and another 20 minutes or half an hour and he would have been driving."

Twelve minutes lapsed between CPR and the defibrillator shock during which time oxygenated blood didn't flow to his brain, in turn leaving Mr Brady with a brain injury.

After 10 days in the intensive care unit, a pacemaker and six stents installed, as well as regular visits to the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Mr Brady is continuing his recovery with Ms Thurgood by his side.

The couple has shared their story to encourage businesses and workplaces to install defibrillators ahead of the Queensland Ambulance Service's Restart A Heart day on Monday.

Stahmann Farms value adding supervisor Denise Ingleton supported the couple's calls for greater awareness on first aid.

"We thought that because Stahmann Farms has an ambulance right around the corner it wasn't far away but as they said at training, they (paramedics) might be able to get there in five minutes or they might be on a job," she said.

"The more we thought about it, the more we thought yes, we should get one.

"We didn't expect to have to use it so soon."

Nor did Mr Brady who is determined to recover enough to return to work when he's physically able, and grateful for the emergency care he was given at the factory, and the support afterwards.

"It's damn lucky I made it through," Mr Brady said.

Defibrillators count when seconds matter

PETER Brady's workplace Stahmann Farms is right around the corner from the Torrington ambulance station.

When every second counts and as paramedics do everything in their power to get to patients as soon as possible, there isn't always time.

It's a fact of life Mr Brady can attest to and he is living proof of how critical CPR and automated external defibrillators can be in emergencies.

It's also a message Mr Brady's employer Stahmann Farms wants to raise with more businesses ahead of the Queensland Ambulance Service's Restart a Heart campaign next week.

Darling Downs Local Ambulance Service Network acting executive manager of operations Mark Hancock said defibrillators were an emerging but easy to use technology.

"The chain of survival hasn't really changed except the defibrillator part is in there as well," he said.

"It's about recognition, early access to ambulance services, early CPR and then it's early defibrillation and early life-support.

"They're all linked together."

Mr Hancock said while more defibrillators were being installed in workplaces and public spaces such as shopping centres and planes, it remained an area in need of improvement.

"The idea is that if someone does suffer cardiac arrest, CPR can get started and the use of a defibrillator is achieved earlier on," he said.

"Every second does count.

"There are plenty of providers that cater for resuscitation and AEDs and if there are groups that purchase one, there are providers that train your staff.

"The AEDs are designed for someone to pick up and use it."

Restart a Heart Day is on Monday.



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