JANUARY 30 was the day Avoca’s Pat Minehan became one of the luckiest men on earth.
And he knows exactly why he was so fortuitous – a quick-thinking stepson and an Ambulance Victoria membership.
Mr Minehan, 60, was at his Bennett Street home with his wife Denice and stepson Matthew Sianidis when he suffered the first of three cardiac arrests.
The trio was preparing to go to the local swimming pool as the temperature soared into the 40s when Mr Minehan staggered to the couch, saying he felt unwell.
“I said ‘what do you mean you don’t feel well’, but I didn’t get an answer,” Mrs Minehan said.
Clammy and shaky when he sat on the couch, Mr Minehan blacked out and started tensing all over. Mr Sianidis, 32, who had only arrived from Queensland the day before, realised his stepfather was in serious trouble.
“I grabbed my phone, called 000, put it on speaker phone and followed their CPR instructions,” he said.
For 10 minutes he compressed Mr Minehan’s chest, but he remained unresponsive apart from some gurgling in his chest, later diagnosed as fluid in his lungs.
Then Mr Minehan’s second saviour arrived in paramedic Rob Paton, who had already finished his Avoca shift, but had stayed back late to wait for a Ballarat relief crew.
Mr Paton zapped Mr Minehan with a defibrillator, getting his heart back into a normal rhythm.
The third miracle appeared when Central Grampians operations group manager – and MICA-trained – Graham McGrath was re-routed at Lexton from a trip between Maryborough and Ballarat.
On his way, Mr McGrath rang the Avoca CFA, who set off the emergency siren to gather local firefighters at the Minehans’ house to help with heavy lifting.
En route to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital, Mr Minehan’s medical information was sent ahead via computer so he could be taken straight to the catheter lab and a stent put in.
At 3am the next day, Mr Minehan suffered another arrest and was again revived via defibrillator.
At 6.30pm, he suffered his third and final attack, resulting in risky emergency open heart surgery to install more stents.
A defibrillator was also put into his heart and its condition is now constantly monitored.
“They were amazed at the hospital. I had no brain damage, no heart damage and I’m still coherent in speech,” he said.
Both paramedics lay much of the praise for Mr Minehan’s recovery at his stepson’s feet – even if he did break three ribs while doing CPR.
“If Matt hadn’t called 000 and done CPR, Pat wouldn’t be here,” Mr McGrath said. “There can’t be successful outcomes unless people act quickly.”
Mr Minehan was full of praise for all three of his saviours.
“I just want to say thank you very much,” he said.
“You can afford to give up two cartons of beer a year for Ambulance Victoria membership. It’s worth your life and it’s the cheapest insurance you can get.”