Quick-acting mates save Brian

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Brian Burrows had been playing well and had just sent down another bowl when he staggered, then collapsed, on the green of the Gingin Bowling Club.

Shocked by what they saw, his fellow bowlers rushed to Brian's side to find he had no pulse.

Three bowlers, Tom Cabassi, Murray Sinclair and Mark Simpson, began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

A defibrillator, which arrived with the local ambulance just 12 1/2 minutes after an emergency call was made, helped determine whether the men were establishing a good rhythm.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Working in turns, the trio did CPR for almost 30 minutes until Brian was able to be airlifted to a Perth hospital.

Doctors said there was just a 5 per cent chance of surviving such an event, but a couple of months later Brian is back on the green.

He thanks his lucky stars that his three bowling mates knew how to apply CPR.

"What could you possibly say to these blokes?" Brian said.

"You can't say thank you enough - the depth of gratitude for what they did is unbelievable."

Brian definitely owes his life to the trio and the fact they had all undertaken a first aid course.

Murray completed a first aid refresher course six months before Brian's collapse and any fears about whether he could remember what to do were quickly allayed.

"I thought I had stood there for two minutes unable to think of what to do but in reality it was a maximum of five seconds," he said.

"It all came back but it was a real team effort.

"On your own, you would try but it would have been hard work.

"If the boys hadn't been there he probably wouldn't have made it."

Brian's survival is testament to the fact first aid knowledge saves lives and all of the men have urged others to undertake a course "just in case".

But almost as important to Brian's survival as Tom, Mark and Murray was the availability of a defibrillator when the ambulance arrived.

Medical experts say that for every minute that elapses after collapse from cardiac arrest there is a 10 per cent reduction in the chance of survival.

By the time 10 minutes have elapsed, survival chances are drastically diminished.

Brian, therefore, beat the odds but not everyone is as lucky.

The Defib Your Club For Life initiative was born after the tragic death of Stephen Buckman, a Rupertswood Football Club player in Victoria, who suffered cardiac arrest at training two years ago. He was just 19 years old.

The not-for-profit group aims to get as many defibrillators into sporting clubs as possible, with the simple aim of saving lives.

So far the initiative has managed to roll out $1.5 million worth of defibrillators to sporting clubs, which can buy a machine from Defib Your Club For Life for $2300.

The group also helps co-ordinate fundraising activities to help sporting clubs get their hands on the life-saving equipment.

Thanks to the support of Bendigo Bank and Defib Your Club For Life, the Gingin Bowling Club now has access to its own defibrillator.

The bowling club plans to hold a training day for its members and the community.

Tom said having one on hand might mean saving a life.

"The idea is to get the message out there to other clubs that there is an ability to get them," he said.

"The plan is to have every sporting club in Australia with a defibrillator and people trained to use it."

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails