Djiti-djitis boardshorts for Andy raises funds for regional defibrillators
- Fremantle father of two Andy Rutherford, 48, died of cardiac arrest after collapsing on a beach at Elephant Rocks, near Denmark, in April.
- Knowing first aid-trained friends, use of community defibrillator and speedy response of volunteer crews from Denmark sub centre did all they could helped widow Renae in her grieving process.
- Profits from the sale of Djiti-djitis for Defibrillators boardies, from South Beach Boardies, will deliver defibrillators to SJWA’s Community First Responder Network along regional coastlines, starting in Denmark.
St John WA’s defibrillator network across regional coastlines is set to grow thanks to an inspired fundraising initiative honouring the late Fremantle father of two Andy Rutherford.
Andy, 48, died of cardiac arrest after collapsing on a beach at Elephant Rocks, near Denmark, in April despite the best efforts of first aid-trained friends, use of community defibrillator and speedy response of volunteer crews from Denmark sub centre.
In tribute to Andy, South Beach Boardies’ owner Kirsten Lopez created specially designed boardshorts in collaboration with his widow Renae and two sons Maxton and Fraser, and will donate profits from the sales to increasing St John WA’s defibrillator network.
Bursting with colour and birds, the ‘Djiti-djitis for Defibrillators’ boardies combined Andy’s love of Djiti-djitis (‘Willy Wagtails’ in Noongar) and brightly-coloured surf shorts.
Kirsten said she came up with the idea after years of support from the family as a small Fremantle business owner who takes sustainability, ethical trade and production, and justice for workers seriously.
“And to continue to give back to the community, which is what this whole enterprise is all about,” she said.
Already $6000 has been raised in pre-sales, before going to the general public in an ongoing initiative which will deliver defibrillators to SJWA’s Community First Responder Network along regional coastlines, starting in Denmark.
Established in 2011, the Community First Responder Network is a free service which aims to get defibrillators to cardiac arrest victims in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives.
Even though Andy was delivered shocks from SJWA defibrillators and given high-quality CPR from two best mates who were trained in SJWA first aid, he could not be saved.
Denmark Emergency Medical Technician and family friend Lesley Murphy responded that day.
She and four others, including a Community Paramedic, worked non-stop to revive him as they made their way to the Denmark hospital.
“I can look Renae in the eye and say that, firstly, someone who loved him was with him when he died. And secondly, that we did everything we possibly could,” Lesley said, tearing up at the memory.
“I could honestly say it would not have been a different outcome if it had been in the city, plus the volunteers in our sub centre are outstanding. And what’s not just me, it was a team effort.
“And same with the hospital at Denmark, the doctors – there was a whole Crash Team turned out – they were outstanding.”
Renae said while she wasn’t there, it helped knowing that nothing more could have been done to save her husband and having defibrillators on hand was a vital part of that chain of care.
“And while it didn’t save him, it’s incredibly easier for me to grieve knowing that there’s no there’s no blame, there’s no anger,” she said.
“I know he got exactly what he needed straightaway because people knew what to do.
“And there were the resources, like the defib, available down there.”
She said her husband was an active, fit and healthy man who had been struck down by a clot to heart which caused a severe stroke three years ago but had recovered well.
“It’s one of those things, he was otherwise incredibly healthy – I mean, 48,” Renae said.
“You just never know, sometimes unfortunately, these tragic things happen.
“Our good friends, Sam and Danny, were with Andy on the day and have both been lucky enough to conduct some St John first aid training in various roles over the years.
“So I’m really grateful that they felt confident and capable that they knew what to do in that situation because of that essential first aid training.”
Locations of registered defibrillators are listed here and on the St John First Responder app. https://stjohnwa.com.au/online-resources/st-john-first-responder-app
The Community First Responder Network is part of St John WA’s commitment to building a strong and resilient Western Australia and supported by community donations.
To learn more about first aid, visit here: https://stjohnwa.com.au/first-aid-training/first-aid-courses