Emily Counter

Emily cuts to heart of debate on need for defibs in Noosa

ONE of Noosa’s great survivors has met face-to-face with the former ironman champion who helped her beat the odds after her sudden cardiac arrest while working out.
With a chest scar evident on her chest from corrective heart surgery, Emily Counter, 21, was the centre of attention at the Noosa Springs promotion night on Tuesday, presented by Guy Leech, former golden boy of the surf turned defibrillator distribution campaigner.
Emily was brought back from the dead late last year in the Anytime Fitness Noosa gym thanks to gym owner Aaron Petterson and his team using an onsite defib.
She escaped the grim statistic that Guy, a Heart Safe Australia ambassador, knows by rote – 600 people will die because of heart failure this week.
Emily’s heart had an undiagnosed fault and was pumping de-oxygenated blood around her system when she collapsed on the rowing machine she was working out on.
“The heart was working twice as hard,” Emily said.
Emily, described by Guy now as “a smiley, happy girl” cannot remember anything of that gym session. Dropping “dead” suddenly has that effect on people.
“Thanks to the defib I’m alive,”
Emily said.
Guy, who supplies the Anytime Fitness chain of gyms with defibs, is part of the push to have this vital lifesaving device made mandatory for all fitness centres, schools, doctors’ surgeries and all public gathering places.
“I feel safe going to Anytime now, because they have the knowledge and all the safety equipment for me to work out,” Emily said.
“I can’t remember the weeks before, my partner has to rejog my memory sometimes even now, so it was very scary.
“Long term, I should have no problems (with her heart), so they’ve taken an artery and basically recon- nected it, so there’s more blood flowing in there.”
She is now an advocate for the 70 per cent of gyms which do not carry defibs to install them as a priority.
“They definitely need to get one, because it saved my life and it certainly is going to save someone else’s,” she said.
She also encouraged more people to have “basic CPR as common knowledge”.