It was a standard afternoon for Rob Comley playing his beloved pennant tennis when a sudden cardiac arrest saw him collapse at Blue Gum Park Tennis Club, Brentwood on 16 March 2014. Fellow tennis players, Steph MacDonald a theatre nurse and Doctor Tom Lane were on an adjoining court when they saw Rob collapse and rushed to his aid to find him grey, flat lining and with no pulse or respirations.
Recognising it was a life or death situation for Mr Comley, Ms McDonald and Doctor Lane were alerted to the fact that Blue Gum Park Tennis Club had a defibrillator onsite which had earlier been recommended by and purchased through Defib for Life (DFL). With the knowledge of how to use the equipment, they immediately called for the machine and commenced defibrillation.
Today Rob has fully recovered from his sudden cardiac arrest and is adamant he owes his life to the quick thinking actions of Steph and Tom. Every year 23,000-33,000 Australians experience their heart suddenly stopping due to a cardiac arrhythmia. Known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), it is caused by a sudden change in the heart’s electrical system, which stops the heart from pumping blood to the body’s vital organs and happens to people of all ages, generally occurring without any previous warning signs. The definitive treatment for terminating lethal arrhythmias is defibrillation which allows the hearts normal impulses to re-commence.
Two of the main causes of sudden cardiac arrest are genetic disorders which is usually a contributing factor in patients under 30 and cardiovascular disease which usually affects patients over 30. With an estimated 1 in 1000 people walking around with an underlying cardiac condition of which they are unaware the common denominator in improving survival rates regardless of the underlying problem is the need to urgently defibrillate someone in order to restart the heart and give the patient the best chance of survival and a full recovery.