A shock to the system
There he lay, white and lifeless, a nurse already performing CPR. And there was Michelle Low Mow, fuelled on little more than adrenaline, a defibrillator in one hand and an oxygen tank in the other.
In her head was one thought; "we have to get him breathing again."
This wasn't the first heart attack Michelle had dealt with on her Western Queensland property and popular tourist spot, Adels Grove. However it was by far the most severe.
"We had a gentleman come to the front counter and ask if anyone had any first aid knowledge as someone had passed out down at the Grove," Michelle recalls.
"I nominated myself and took them on a shortcut; however on the way the gentleman asked me if I had a defibrillator."
Michelle's initial thought of someone simply passing out was promptly nullified when she was informed the patient was not responding to CPR.
"I grabbed the defibrillator and oxygen and just took off," she said.
Graphic: Michelle Low Mow
But there was another lifesaving decision Michelle made before she ran to the man's aid. She had her office call the Flying Doctor.
"I got our office to call the Flying Doctor and I took the two-way [radio]. That way our office could be the go-between for us and the RFDS."
Surveying the scene, Michelle ran to meet the nurse who was still performing CPR. Charging the defibrillator – a piece of equipment supplied by the RFDS for the regular primary health clinics run by the RFDS from Adels Grove – Michelle attached the pads to the man's chest and sent the first charge into his body.
"The adrenaline was just pumping. I was just concentrating on what I was doing at the time to make sure we could get him breathing again," Michelle recalls.
"We were on the two way radio talking to the office and she was on the phone to the RFDS. We were able to ask questions and get answers and vice versa until the plane landed."
After about five charges were sent through the man's body, he regained consciousness. And amazingly, as Michelle points out, he was even able to speak to her and the RFDS medical staff once they arrived, unsurprisingly, complaining of a sore chest.
Graphic: Local Heroes Video
After being transported to Townsville where he underwent heart surgery, Michelle is happy to report her Adels Grove guest-turned-patient made a full recovery and is now back travelling.
"It is amazing he now has no problems at all," Michelle said. "If it had happened when he was on one of the walking tracks 10km out at the National Park it would have been a completely different story. I guess he just fell at the right spot.
"He rang me a couple of times after the incident when he was up and active again, thanking us. It was great to have a chat with him and see how he was going.
"He still had a few more months of recovery until he had a full bill of health. He wasn't sure how far he would get travelling, but he sounded great and was keen to hit the road again."
Michelle's amazing efforts were recognised in 2016 when she was awarded the Mt Isa region's RFDS Local Heroes Award. And in true outback style, she was truly modest in accepting the award.
"It's just part of our life out here. If someone is sick you just try to fix them up and try and make sure you get them the right help."
"It was very humbling. I never expected the award because it is just part of everyday life for us. It's just great to be acknowledged for something you do every day.
"It's something anyone would have done. It just shows how important it is to have those right procedures in place in case something like this does happen."
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