GOOD MOVE: Rob Campbell demonstrates cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Kawana Surf Life Saving Club member Courtney Elsmore.
GOOD MOVE: Rob Campbell demonstrates cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Kawana Surf Life Saving Club member Courtney Elsmore. Darryn Smith

CPR makes everyone a superhero

ROB Campbell vividly recalls the day 15 years ago when he dragged his baby son – purple and lifeless – from the bottom of the family pool.

Fourteen-month-old Reagan had been standing safely on the step of the pool and Rob only turned his back for a moment.

But then a slight gust of wind blew Reagan’s hat into the water

It was only when Rob’s wife Robyn came out of the house and asked were Reagan was that the horrified father saw his son under the water.

Rob frantically pulled Reagan out, placing him on the grass, and then he cleared his airway.

Only five weeks earlier, Rob had completed a first-aid course.

So he said that when he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on his baby boy, he did not really have to think about the process: it came to him as second nature.

“It seemed like forever but it didn’t cross my mind that I wouldn’t get him back,” Rob said last week.

“I just concentrated on my technique.”

Rob said that while time seemed to slow, a minute probably passed before Reagan took that first breath and expelled a huge amount of aerated water from his mouth.

“My enduring memory was watching the froth pouring out of his mouth and nose,” he said.

The ambulance was called and arrived soon after the incident and Reagan was taken to hospital, where he was held overnight for observation.

Rob said he had initially done the first-aid and CPR course for work-related reasons, but he had had the idea in the back of his mind to do a course for a while.

Reagan’s near-drowning certainly brought home the need for every adult and child to have some knowledge of what to do in an emergency.

The Campbells now actively promote first-aid and CPR courses through the surf lifesaving movement.

Reagan is a 16-year-old Dicky Beach Surf Life Saving Club cadet who has earned his bronze certificate and regularly does volunteer patrols at the beach. Rob is also actively involved in surf lifesaving as the Dicky Beach youth development officer, the Sunshine Coast Branch director of youth and member development. He is also on the Surf Lifesaving Queensland membership services committee.

A recent episode on Ten’s reality TV show Bondi Rescue, in which a near-drowning was graphically filmed, drew attention to CPR – a skill that makes everyday people heroes with the capacity to save lives.

Pulsestart head of training and development Michael Johnston said his organisation saw a diverse range of people doing CPR and first-aid courses.

These not only included paramedics and people working with children, but also hairdressers, security guards, engineers, sporting club coaches, volunteers plus new mothers who worried about their children drowning and being involved in household accidents.

Mr Johnston said many university students such as nurses, teachers, engineers and speech pathologists required CPR for their work placement.

He said CPR combined chest compressions and rescue breathing, where the purpose was to maintain circulation in the body to preserve brain function.

“Any attempt at resuscitation is better than no attempt,” he said.

While on-line training is available to the general public, he emphasised the importance of a practical, supervised component to the training.

He said effective CPR involved an accurate head tilt, the correct amount of breath and compression depth which influenced the amount of blood pressure that gets to the brain, and this should be learnt in a practical situation.

Judy Bartlett, of Rapid Response First Aid, said CPR should be a basic skill learnt by everyone, especially parents and other family members.

A registered nurse with more than 25 years experience specialising in paediatric and emergency nursing, Ms Bartlett said CPR was not a “scary” process to learn, but the situation it was applied to could be.

She said her courses were hands-on, informative and easy to understand and anyone who did the course would be trained to keep a loved one alive until emergency services arrived.

She said the time frame before emergency services arrived was critical.

“Don’t say, ‘if only’ – do something now and learn CPR,” she said.

CPR courses require between two and four hours of training and a financial outlay of between $50 and $70.

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