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‘Lucky to be alive’: Joe’s survival score is one his touch rugby club takes pride in tackling

Press Release
  • Only 10 per cent of West Australians survive out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), with chance of survival diminishing 10 per cent every minute.
  • Bystanders applying a defibrillator and CPR in the first minutes of OHCA can improve the chance of survival threefold.
  • For Restart a Heart Day on October 16, St John WA (SJWA) is committed to growing its 7700 registered network of community AEDs.

The odds of surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are one in 10.
Joe Jeffries beat the odds.
Twice.
In seven months.

Southern Stars Touch Football physio Paul Hudson, left, and referee Joe Jeffries, with the St John WA defibrillator that saved his life.

The 64-year-old touch rugby referee collapsed during halftime at separate games, one held at his Southern Stars Touch Football club in Karawara on January 22 this year and the second at Northern District’s Bennett Park in Doubleview on July 3.

Thanks to the quick actions of team mates, the Kardinya man regained a pulse from shocks delivered by automated external defibrillators (AEDs) installed at both clubs and CPR from trained medics before ambulance arrived.

“When I was in hospital, the doctors, surgeons and medical staff all said after looking deeper into what they’ve done for me, I am really lucky to be alive,” Mr Jeffries said.

Former Australian Army medic and Southern Stars head trainer Paul Hudson saw Mr Jeffries first collapse and quickly did DRSABC and began chest compressions while calling for the AED. A female bystander called for an ambulance and another assisted Mr Hudson.

“If you don’t get the heart moving, the blood starts to clot and the heart swells to a third more than its usual size which can interfere in moving the blood to vital organs and hinder a shockable rhythm,” Mr Hudson said.

“Early intervention with an AED and significant chest compressions within the first minutes of witnessed cardiac arrest will significantly improve the odds of survival, studies have shown.”

Mr Jeffries was delivered his first of four AED shocks in under three minutes of his collapse and Mr Hudson and others managed to get a pulse just as ambulance arrived 10 minutes later.

“Anything you can feel in the wrist or neck is gold. He was very lucky as I don’t think he would have survived otherwise,” Mr Hudson said.

Northern Districts vice president Jake Bogue, who did one year study of paramedicine and works in health care, was at both games when Mr Jeffries fell unconscious and stopped breathing.

He said the team were very co-ordinated the second time in their collective effort with CPR, while he and one other delivered instructions.

It took at least five minutes for the first shock from the AED to be delivered because it was farther away and there was a slight delay because the automated device wouldn’t send a shock while hands were still on Mr Jeffries’s chest doing compressions.

But after a number of shocks and chest compressions, together with the arrival of a Clinical Support Paramedic followed shortly by an ambulance within 10 minutes, Mr Jeffries again achieved a pulse.

“We were very happy with our efforts, there was a huge sigh of relief for everyone with that one,” Mr Bogue said.

Years ago, touch football clubs around the Perth metropolitan area mandated the need to have defibrillators at club houses, helped along by Lotterywest Heart Grants in partnership with SJWA.

SJWA Chief Preventative Officer Megs O’Donnell said that for every minute lost in OHCA chance of survival drops 10 per cent.

“There are more than 7700 AEDs registered with St John WA which can be deployed by any member of the public in event of OHCA,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“They’re simple and easy to use, which is important because the first few minutes after cardiac arrest are the most critical.

“The only way to make things worse with an AED is not to use it.”

The latest OHCA data found:

  • West Australian bystanders provided CPR to 82 per cent of OHCA patients in 2021, furthermore AED pads were applied to 157 patients, up 45 per cent over five years.
  • When a shock was delivered by a community AED, 53.6 per cent of patients achieved Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) at Emergency Departments, compared to 20.6 per cent of cases in general,
  • And 46.4 per cent of patients survived to 30 days post event compared to 10.5 per cent of cases in general.

As part of its campaign for Restart a Heart Day on October 16, SJWA is committed to growing its free Community First Responder Network, which aims to get defibrillators to OHCA victims in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives.

“For a cardiac arrest patient in a shockable rhythm, they are nearly three times more likely to be a survivor if they receive their first shock from a bystander with a community AED, than from the ambulance response,” St John WA Resuscitation Improvement Specialist Jason Belcher said.

“Mr Jeffries is living proof.”

Remember to CALL. PUSH. SHOCK to save a life.

For all of Shocktober, SJWA is offering discounts on defibrillators. To find out more about the Community First Responder Network visit stjohnwa.com.au/ambulance-and-health-services/community-first-responder

Locations of registered defibrillators are listed on the St John First Responder app.To book in for first aid training, go to stjohnwa.com.au/first-aid-training/first-aid-courses

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