Bystanders shock Highton grandfather back to life

A Highton grandfather says a “whole lot of coincidences” saved his life when he suffered a cardiac arrest while riding his bike last month.

The first was Deakin University Director of Rural Medical Education Assoc. Prof. Lara Fuller’s son running late for school.

“It was fortunate because it meant I was driving home later than I should have been,” she said.

“About 20 metres in front of me, I saw a man just fall sideways off his bike for no reason and lie still.

“I knew something had happened, so I pulled over – he was unresponsive, so I started CPR straight away.”

Lara Fuller and Graeme Best, and the bike Graeme was riding on the day.

Ms Fuller passing by wasn’t the only lucky moment for 71-year-old Graeme Best; an off-duty police officer and an Epworth Health radiographer were among others who stopped to help.

As a team, they called Triple Zero (000), collected an AED from a nearby school and administered a shock while Ambulance Victoria (AV) paramedics were on the way.

Mr Best spent five days in hospital before heading home and is well on the way to getting back on his bike.

“It’s hard to imagine that all those things happened and that’s why I’m still here,” he said.

“I don’t know what to say but the biggest thank you possible to everyone that helped.”

AV paramedics Jamie Van Bruggen and Hayley Birch, and FRV members Ian Lilley,

Christopher Owens and Andrew Rankin reunited with Graeme Best and his family

(wife Karen, daughters Nikki and Kathy, and grandkids Micah, Astrid, Asher and Bowie)

along with bystander, Deakin University Assoc. Prof. Lara Fuller.

AV Barwon South West Acting Regional Director Jessica McGowan said the case highlights that all Victorians can save a life.

“The actions of those amazing community members are the reason Graeme was able to return home to his family,” Ms McGowan said.

“When a patient receives CPR and a shock from an AED before our paramedics arrive, their chance of survival more than doubles.”

Ms Fuller said she was thankful that she knew what to do at the time.

“You don’t ever want to have to use your CPR skills, but it was good to have them and to be comfortable in the situation,” she said.

“I’ve taught CPR regularly over many years at Deakin and this was very much like one of the scenarios we do with the students.

“I really encourage people to do CPR training because it’s actually not hard and it’s such an important skill.”

Graeme and his family, in the back of an ambulance.

Cardiac arrest occurs when a person’s heart suddenly stops pumping blood effectively around the body.

It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and often without symptoms.

Mr Best was able to reunite with the bystanders, paramedics and firefighters who came to his aid as part of AV’s Shocktober campaign.

Shocktober is a month-long campaign to highlight the importance of learning CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

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