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Courage awarded

Friday, 1st August, 2008

The courage shown by two students and an off-duty nurse that helped save a heart attack victim's life was acknowledged yesterday by the NSW Ambulance Service.

Blair Stephens (BHHS) and Sarah Ray (Willyama High) performed CPR on bus driver Brian Evitts after he suffered a heart attack on May 16.

Mr Evitts was driving the Bushview Cottage bus at the time, carrying a number of elderly passengers.

When he suffered his heart attack, the bus collided with a parked car, mounted a kerb and crashed through a fence into Willyama High School during recess, luckily missing students.The two students helped remove Mr Evitts from the bus and applied CPR.

Off-duty nurse Vilmae McManus assisted in maintaining control of the emergency scene and helped the students who were resuscitating Mr Evitts.

Their efforts in saving Mr Evitts' life were commended by the Ambulance Service at an awards presentation yesterday.

Mr Evitts said he doesn't remember what happened from the time of his heart attack to waking up the next morning in hospital.

He said he wished to thank everyone for saving his life and that the two students deserved special praise.

"I liked to see these kids rewarded, it's a good example to others," he said.

"Everyone might know it (CPR) but to have the guts to jump in and do it is another thing."

Blair and Sarah both gratefully acknowledged their Certificates of Appreciation.

"You never think you'll be able to help someone like that, but it felt good," said Blair.

Louise Smith was acknowledged with a special award for her part in the emergency.

She was a passenger on the bus in her position as a Home Care Worker, when after Mr Evitt's collapsed and the bus collided with a parked car, she moved to take control of the bus.

Mrs Smith crawled into the driver's section and put her hand on the foot brake whilst steering the out of control bus away from students.

Steering the bus away from a concrete walkway may also have saved the elderly passengers from being seriously injured had the bus not stopped.

The Ambulance Service presented Mrs Smith with a Commendation for Courage Medal, usually reserved for uniformed staff. It is the first time the medal has been awarded to a member of the public in NSW.

Mrs Smith said she was a "bit embarrassed" but thought it "a lovely recognition".

The Ambulance Service also presented Zoll Awards to Brian Evitts, Robyn Gebhert, Phil Keane, Bruce MacIntosh, Mervyn Miller and Pauline
Pompeo (absent) for surviving a heart attack resuscitation. There are only nine people in Broken Hill with a Zoll Award.

Medical Director Ambulance Service NSW, Dr Paul Middleton, addressed the award presentation and praised the local Ambulance Service for their actions in saving the lives of heart attack victims.

He said Broken Hill's survivability rate of 20 per cent for heart attack resuscitation was equal with Seattle, Washington State, in the US.

"The worldwide survivability rate is six per cent," he said.

Dr Middleton said innovations, including new immediate treatment drugs, were helping to save more lives.

But he had a pointed reminder for all those present.

"Call OOO if you feel a chest pain...the Ambulance Service don't mind responding, but they do mind if not given the chance to save someone."

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