IT WAS a 5km Parkrun just days before Christmas last year that proved a heart-stopper for fit-as-a-fiddle 46-year-old accountant Brett Orpwood.
Almost a year on from his sudden cardiac arrest, the Victorian ran with his nine-year-old son at the Noosa Parkrun out of Noosaville State School and later was keen to share the secret to a touch-and-go survival.
His fellow runners in Mitcham responded with a team effort in CPR until the race director jogged to where he lay collapsed and hit him a couple of jolts from a defibrillator supplied to Parkrun by Park Safe Australia.
Heart Safe is the organisation set up by ironman Guy Leech and promoted by his Noosa-based mum Lis Blake to supply these lifesaving devices far and wide into the community.
“Effectively I was the first life saved by a defibrillator at a Parkrun,” Mr Orpwood said at the school last week.
“It was an electrical issue – an arrhythmia issue so my heart just stopped. I was very, very fortunate I was saved by a defibrillator and six of my fellow Parkrunners.”
These happened to be a doctor, a policeman and four nurses.
“The defib restarted my heart but it stopped again,” he said.
“They kept working until the paramedics arrived and brought my heart back.”
Mr Orpwood was implanted with his own personal defib and after months of recovery went back to running in March. He has just done his first half-marathon.
“We still need so many defibrillators added to society and we need more people to learn CPR,” he said.
“I run with the people who saved my life every week and I love that, I love seeing them every week and I’m eternally grateful.”
He said on the Sunshine Coast there was, on average, one heart attack a day and at present the survival rate was 10 per cent.
Noosa Parkrun organiser Michael Taylor was impressed by the take-home message in Mr Orpwood’s comeback from near-death.
Ms Blake contacted him from out of the blue as part of a chain of events that would see all Parkruns eventually buy into mandatory defibs.
This defib was paid for through the office of the Member for Noosa.
“We got ours about a year ago,” Ms Blake said.
“We haven’t had to use it yet, luckily for us – it’s sitting there to be used.
“With Brett … there were so many around him that knew how to use it and that’s what saved him.”
Mr Taylor has spoken to the school about making the defib available for use in a school emergency.
Ms Blake said her key message was teaching people where the defibs were located.
She said her son Guy never travelled in his car without one.