Michael Patkin's

Cardiac arrest - a case report of successful resuscitation

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Sir: Dr.Windsor's report of successful cardiac massage for a man with ventricular fibrillation at the beach (Journal, December 14, 1968) prompts the following report of a similar case.

At 8.30 p.m. last June 1, a 77-year-old man collapsed while seated at a wedding reception dinner at a hotel in Dungog. A nearby ambulance driver, who was a guest, felt for a carotid pulse. It was not present, and quickly he had the unconscious man carried to some clear space in an office 15 yards away. There, two nursing sisters could not a pulse, and the patient was not breathing. His pupils were enlarged. The ambulance man began mouth-to-mouth respiration and external cardiac massage.

Within a short time, estimated at two minutes, spontaneous respiration reappeared, and a pulse returned. I saw the patient about ten minutes after his collapse, when he was still unconscious, but breathing normally, and with a normal pulse. After a further ten minutes the patient had regained consciousness, and I was able to discuss his contact lenses with him. The patient was admitted to the Dungog and District Hospital, where he made an unremarkable recovery and serial electrocardiograms confirmed that myocardial infarction had taken place.

Routine history elicited a history of mild angina of effort for some months previously. This 77-year-old man remains in good health, and enjoys good spirits and the company of his family. His life was saved from permanent extinction by the prompt and efficient action of a person trained in the simple techniques of diagnosing cardiac arrest, and of applying cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

I must commend Ambulanceman Ted Baker, of the Dungog-Stroud Ambulance Service, for his prompt and efficient action in restoring this patient to life. I hope his splendid example may be copied by others confronted with sudden death in this way.

Michael Patkin
Dungog, N.S.W. 2420.


Med.J.Aust 11 January 1969 p.80

In 1969 I had been a GP-surgeon in a small dairying and timber town in the Hunter Valley, NSW, for 4 years, a year before going on to a Fellowship in Surgery at the Royal Newcastle Hospital. Described here is one of the many remarkable experiences that can occur in country general practice.

The Dr. Windsor in this case was the famous Harry Windsor, of Sydney, who carried out Australia's first (but unsuccessful) heart transplant. His patient had a cardiac arrest on a Sydney beach and was revived successfully. It must have been early that summer season, and been printed quickly by the MJA ("the green comic").

This was a time when reviving a dead person, or the attempt to do so, was most unusual anywhere. In a small country town you seize any opportunity to show you are just as clever as the city chaps, a psychological over-compensation for not being good enough to compete in the city.