Strangers Unite To Save Barnawartha Father

A Barnawartha father owes his life to his friends and a small group of strangers after a weekend away took an almost deadly turn.

Last month Jason Lawrence, 53, was on a motorbike ride with his 11-year-old daughter and two friends when they decided to take a small bushwalk up Mount Buffalo.

Jason is standing beside an ambulance with the group of first responder and bystanders who came to his aid.

Today, Jason Lawrence (fourth from left) thanked first responders and bystanders for the role they played in saving his life after he went into cardiac arrest while on a remote walking track in Mount Buffalo last month.

What started out as a fun adventure quickly became a medical emergency when Jason had a cardiac arrest and became unresponsive on a remote walking track, falling between two boulders.

“It came completely out of the blue, I hadn’t shown any signs of excessive breathing or exhaustion and wasn’t having any problems,” Jason said.

“Then my friends heard me fall without calling out or saying anything.”

His friends, Mick Green and Nicole Crossley, quickly jumped into action, not only looking after his daughter but also calling Triple Zero (000), pulling Jason onto the track and commencing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The help didn’t stop there though, as Mick ran into two strangers, Hannah Firth and Nathan Edis, while on his way to find a nearby automated external defibrillator (AED), with Hannah volunteering to collect the lifesaving device while Nathan stayed to direct emergency services.

“By chance, I happened to see the AED the night before while at the campsite, so ran to grab it as fast as I could,” Hannah said.

Meanwhile, further up the trail three hikers, Brogan Broadway, Corbin Geyer and Megan Fulcher, came to the aid of Nicole and Mick, with some helping to administer CPR to Jason while others cared for his daughter further down the trail.

In an outstanding effort, the group performed effective CPR and administered more than 12 shocks from the AED before paramedics arrived.

Ambulance Victoria (AV) Acting Alpine Senior Team Manager, Jon Hopkins said without the efforts of everyone involved, Jason would not be alive today.

“These bystanders delivered several shocks and supplied outstanding CPR prior to my arrival, which made all the difference,” he said.

“For some time, it was myself and these bystanders only and they diligently assisted me through several more rounds of CPR and defibrillations.

“They were the critical difference.”

Jason standing with the bystanders in front of an ambulance office.

A group of eight bystanders are the reason Jason (third from the left) is alive today, after they rushed to his aid, helping retrieve an AED, direct emergency services and administer CPR before paramedics arrived.

VICSES Myrtleford Unit Controller David Coates said Jason’s experience was a great example of emergency services working together.

“Our highly skilled volunteers are extensively trained in search and rescue techniques, remote communications and other relevant units of competency in order to support Ambulance Victoria with these types of incidents requiring patient carry outs from remote locations,” he said.

“For this incident, when we got the call for help come through, our priority was to immediately get a crew together to assist paramedics in extracting the patient from the location, which was rocky, narrow, uneven, and difficult to access.”

AV and SES crews extricated Jason and he was airlifted to Royal Melbourne Hospital where he stayed for about 12 days.

Now back at home with his family and on his way to making a full recovery, Jason said words can’t describe how thankful he is to everyone who helped save his life.

“It’s easy to pass it off as a miracle but everything was done deliberately, learning to do CPR, having the defib in the camping ground – all of those things take intention,” he said.

“It’s no accident, no miracle, it’s everything coming together as it should to save a life.”

Every day, around 20 Victorians suffer a cardiac arrest but only one in 10 survive.

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

Jason said he hopes sharing his experience will encourage others to learn CPR and make more AEDs publicly accessible.

“I want everyone to learn CPR, take regular refresher courses, know where their nearest AED is and how to use it,” he said.

“My story is also a reminder to bushwalk with friends – not alone.

“All the stars aligned and that’s why I’m here today.”

/Public Release. View in full here.