Orange City Lions coach Steve Hamson says he was fortunate he was at Pride Park when he had a heart attack on August 5.
“Luckily, Waratahs and Orange City put a defibrillator in, the stars aligned on the day,” Mr Hamson said.
“I’ve been involved in a few similar circumstances and the three people I [tried to resuscitate] are all dead.”
However, Mr Hamson was saved by the quick response of Andrew Fraser and Jack Keppel from the Charles Sturt University rugby union team and registered nurse Wendy Baker who used a defibrillator until ambulances arrived.
For their efforts, the students were given tickets to see the Bledisloe Cup, although given the Wallabies’ current standing, Mr Hamson wasn't sure it was much of a reward.
Mr Hamson said the heart attack came without warning after he refereed the colts game and he had no shortness of breath or sore chest, just an aching shoulder he put down to a lack of fitness.
By chance, his wife Kate and their two children arrived to find ambulances at the sports ground and they initially didn’t realise paramedics were resuscitating Mr Hamson, they merely went to deliver a message.
“The CSU boys used [the defibrillator] four times and when the paramedics arrived they used their machine two more times,” Mrs Hamson said.
“I walked in to see the paramedics doing CPR on him, it was a bit of a scary shock. There were some very good people there making sure we didn’t see what was going on.”
Mr Hamson arrived at Orange hospital about 45 minutes after his cardiac arrest and Dr David Amos, three on-call nurses and a radiologist spent two-and-a-half hours clearing a blocked artery and inserting four stents in his heart to open arteries and allow blood flow.
Dr Amos said only two to three per cent of people who go into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive.
"The work of the bystanders was absolutely fantastic and he would’t be with us if that wasn’t done,” Dr Amos said.
He also credited the work of paramedics, emergency staff and on-call nurses, and said Orange is the only hospital in regional NSW that has 24-hour on-call cardiology nurses so patients come from a wide area.
“This winter has been particularly busy [for heart attacks] with the flu, there’s been 13 acute heart attacks this month already,” he said on Tuesday.
Although he has returned home, Mr Hamson said he is still feeling the effects of the efforts made to save his life.
“It feels like I’ve been kicked in the chest by a mule but I can’t whinge about it,” he said.
Mr Hamson said the heart attack was unexpected.
He said that since he turned 50 he had regular fitness and health checks with his latest blood pressure and cholesterol tests yielding good results.
He also said he had medical tests with work and has remained active and thought he was doing all the right things.
However, Mr Hamson said he should have paid more attention to his family medical history because his father died suddenly and unexpectedly in his late 50s.
Life saving equipment
Although the defibrillator that was used to save Mr Hamson’s life was bought privately for use at the sports grounds, Orange City Council also has a number of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in some of its busiest locations:
- Orange Aquatic Centre
- Orange Airport
- Home and Community Care Centre
- Community Information Centre
- Orange Civic Centre building (available for use in both theatre and civic centre customer service area) and Works Depot
- Lake Canobolas