Nannup volunteer back on his bike and giving back after sudden cardiac arrest 

Press Release

South West local Mark was cycling more than 600km a week before his heart suddenly stopped beating.  

The cycling fanatic was on the second grueling day of the Tour of Margaret River team race in November 2020 when his life changed in an instant. 

“I must’ve known something was wrong because I yelled out – then bang, lights out, my heart stops,” Mark said. 

“The stars lined up for me that day though.” 

Mark had suffered a sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in the middle of a 99km stretch of the race near Nannup. 

With only one in 10 people surviving such an incident, the odds were not in his favour. 

Luckily, one of Mark’s teammates, who he now calls his “guardian angel”, wasn’t far behind him.  

The nurse and trained CPR instructor raced to his aid within minutes and started compressions straight away. 

“I was not breathing – I was a deep purple colour,” Mark said. 

“I have no doubt that without her I would have died that day.” 

Two more nurses and an emergency doctor who were also competing in the race soon reached them and joined the fight to save Mark’s life.  

The first ambulance helmed by volunteers from the St John WA (SJWA) Nannup Sub Centre arrived on scene shortly after. 

“The doctor used the equipment in the advanced life support bag the ambulance carries to manage my airway while the SJWA volunteers took over CPR and applied the defibrillator,” he said.  

“I was shocked twice, and my heart returned to a steady rhythm, but I was still in dire straits.  

“Nobody expected me to survive.”  

Mark was rushed to the local hospital under lights and sirens before he was flown to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth where he stayed for two weeks. 

After several tests, Mark had a defibrillator implanted in his chest and was remarkably able to return to work within months. 

Nearly four years later, Mark has made a full recovery but the gratitude he feels for those who helped him is something he will carry forever.  

So much so, after retiring in June 2023, Mark moved to Nannup and joined as a volunteer with SJWA to give back to the team who helped save his life.  

Mark started as a non-clinical volunteer, assisting around the sub centre before training as a volunteer ambulance officer earlier this year. 

He now serves alongside dedicated volunteers like Emergency Medical Technicians Sue Smith and Jenny Forbes (pictured with Mark above) who were there for him on his worst day. 

“I can never say thank you enough to all of those who were there that day, working on me to give me the best possible chance, directing traffic or going for help,” he said. 

“They were all involved in saving my life. 

“Despite the odds, I am one of the lucky ones to not only survive, but to be living an active and full life. 

“Now I volunteer alongside those who helped me have a positive outcome from an incident that could have turned out so differently.” 

SJWA’s Country Ambulance has about 4000 volunteers supporting the service, which covers the biggest footprint of any single ambulance service in the world — 2.5 million square kilometres or 33 per cent of the Australian landmass.

Click here to learn more about volunteering with SJWA.

Share this:

Follow us on Social Media: