Stayin' Alive thanks to disco CPR

By Vomle Springford -
Passersby sing Bee Gees hit as rescuer does a Vinnie Jones on cyclist in cardiac arrest.

David Gates, left, meets Chris Brough yesterday. Photo / APN
David Gates, left, meets Chris Brough yesterday. Photo / APN

Dave Gates learned a lifesaving lesson about CPR from a 90-second video featuring British actor and former footballer Vinnie Jones.

Last month, he helped save the life of Chris Brough, a 53-year-old from Porirua who went into sudden cardiac arrest on the way back from cycling a 30km "quick whizz" to the Paekakariki Hill Rd summit.

Mr Gates performed CPR to the beat of Stayin' Alive, sung by two other passersby, for 10 minutes until an ambulance came.

Cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and stops unexpectedly. It kills within minutes if not treated. It is different to a heart attack, which is when blood flow to the heart is obstructed.

Mr Gates, an orderly at Wairarapa Hospital, did the CPR on Mr Brough after remembering the British Heart Foundation video of Vinnie Jones dressed as a London hard man doing chest compressions on an unconscious patient to the beat of disco hit Stayin' Alive.

Yesterday, Mr Brough met his rescuer in person at Wairarapa Hospital for the first time since the incident.

"I owe my life to Dave," said Mr Brough. "There's no way you can just sit down and say, 'Thanks for that'. It's beyond what you can actually articulate in words."

The keen cyclist had turned off State Highway 58 when he went into cardiac arrest, fell unconscious and toppled off his bike. Passersby had stopped and called an ambulance when Mr Gates drove past the scene. He had never performed CPR before.

"My first thought was, 'I don't think he's breathing, just go for it'."

Mr Gates cleared Mr Brough's airway and started the CPR, as the other passersby sang the Bee Gees hit. At one point he thought he had lost him.

"I had a feeling, you had that look ... I was watching his pupils going smaller, going smaller."

He remembered seeing doctors and nurses at Wairarapa Hospital doing CPR, and kept going.

"When I've watched them they don't give up either."

When the ambulance arrived, crew used a defibrillator to get Mr Brough's heart beating again.

Mr Brough had no idea what had happened when he woke up in a haze at Wellington Hospital five days later.

It could have been a very different outcome if Mr Gates had not done what he did or had come along just five minutes later, he said.

His survival is a rare result of CPR being performed by bystanders - only 8 per cent of people survive.

Mr Brough said the incident was life-changing and he and his wife had rethought their priorities in life.

"I was that close. I was gone and I was brought back, I got a second chance."

Mr Brough's wife, Tracy, said Mr Gates' actions were amazing, especially as he was not formally trained.

Mr Brough said the incident should be used as a catalyst for people to learn CPR. They shouldn't be afraid to do it. "Obviously it works."

Mr Gates' partner Trina Duncan, a nurse at the hospital, said Dave came home and had a beer afterward.

She was more excited than he was, she said.

"I don't think he realises what he has done fully."

-APN

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