ACT News

Cardiac arrest survivor meets the maker of a defibrillator that saved him

A Canberra man who suffered a cardiac arrest while competing in a triathlon has met the chief executive of a company that produced the defibrillator which saved his life.

Callan Fox, a 29-year-old man in healthy condition, collapsed at the corner of Anzac Parade and Parkes Way in January and required emergency medical attention from a paramedic. 

"As I was passing the intersection I fell over right in front of some race officials who started to resuscitate me before calling over a nearby St John's Ambulance paramedic," he said.

"If that paramedic – who was still a student – didn't have a defibrillator with him then I wouldn't be here today."

Mr Fox said he had little memory of the day but had no family history of heart disease and had always led a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.

"My fiancée was competing in the same event and she was a little behind me so by the time she got to me I was clinically dead, which was extremely confronting for her," he said.

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The St John's Ambulance officer was carrying a Schiller pocket defibrillator and was able to save Mr Fox despite having never using the equipment on a patient outside of training.

Schiller Australia chief executive Harry Packer said it was an incredible feeling to know that equipment produced by his company had saved Mr Fox's life.

In an informal ceremony at the scene of the cardiac arrest, he presented Mr Fox with a Swiss watch to recognise his successful recovery – a nod to the company's European roots.

"Callan is a young man and very much alive and kicking but when we save a life we present them with a watch and try to induct them as family members if you like – it's an exclusive club," he said.

Mr Packer said 11 Australians had been saved by the defibrillator but there was a desperate need for more products across Australia.

More than 30,000 Australians experience a cardiac arrest every year but only 10 per cent survive.

"There is a need for more public access defibrillators to be available in the ACT including at tourist, community and sporting facilities," he said.

"There is a bit of resistance in government circles and they aren't as interested as they should be."

Mr Fox said pocket-sized defibrillators weighing less than 500 grams could be used by anyone in the case of an emergency with the right training.

"As strange as it may sound, we have children as young as six-years-old with cardiac conditions carrying around defibrillators in their backpacks," he said.

"Obviously they can't use the devices themselves but they can be used by those around them who have had training like teachers or students."

Mr Fox said it was "bizarre" to be back at the scene of his cardiac arrest after a couple a few months

"It's a bit strange in a way but it's kind of cool that you get a prize for not dying," he said. 

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