‘I picked a perfect place to die’: News Corp boss saved
BRYCE Johns' heart could have stopped beating anywhere and at any time, but it gave in at the perfect place.
Within metres of a skilled lifesaver and a defibrillator, the 52-year-old had a cardiac arrest on the shores of Cotton Tree beach.
The regular visitor to the Sunshine Coast was swimming with his daughter in the early afternoon when he became worried they were trying to swim too far out and ordered them back to shore.
He was puffing hard when they got to the beach.
Mr Johns grabbed at his chest when he spoke with the Daily from his hospital room about the tightness that overcame his torso on October 27 before he collapsed and blacked out.
"We came back in and I felt very tired and out of breath so I sat on the sand for 30 seconds to get my breath back," he said.
"Then I got the tightness in my chest and I didn't know what it was.
"I told my daughter to go get mum and that's all I can remember."
The News Corp Australia executive editor had a severe cardiac arrest.
He was unconscious and without a steady pulse for at least 10 minutes, and his brain was depleted of oxygen for at least three minutes.
"It felt like forever," his partner Anna Gibson said.
Ms Gibson was at a nearby restaurant when her daughter came running for her.
"I remember it all too vividly," she said.
Holding Mr Johns' hand, she kept talking to him as a crowd gathered and lifesavers came out of nowhere.
Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club volunteer Robin Smith had rescued multiple people from the surf, but this was his first cardiac arrest.
He was the most senior lifesaver among two juniors conducting their random patrols through the unpatrolled area of beach.
On-board their buggy was a defibrillator- the technology that doctors said saved Mr Johns' life.
"It's the difference between life and death," Mr Johns said.
At a hospital, the survival rate of a similar medical episode is three per cent, doctors told Mr Johns.
"They said 'imagine what it's like out there'," he said, pointing to the door.
Mr Johns was placed in an induced coma for 24 hours and had a defibrillator placed on his heart in surgery on Friday.
He was on the mend, but not without the immense help from volunteers, emergency staff, doctors and of course, the little box that saved his life.
Mr Johns was determined to raise awareness around the importance of defibrillators saying no business could afford to be without one.
"We are very lucky that we are seeing some generous sponsors and smart businesspeople in workplaces getting defibrillators, but it's nowhere near as widespread as it needs to be," he said.
"If businesses get in and get people trained, they are going to save more lives."
A LETTER TO THE EDITOR FROM BRYCE
We have heroes among us - and I'm writing to thank every one of them for helping keep me alive.
When I had a cardiac arrest at Cotton Tree beach recently, things would have been bleak had these people failed to step up.
A number of beachgoers knew I was in trouble before I did.
They started treatment, started comforting family and called for an ambulance.
Miraculously, Maroochy Surf Club lifeguard Robin Smith and a couple of his young colleagues happened to be at that end of the beach on their four-wheel-drive.
Thanks too to new technology and generous sponsors - the vehicle was fitted with a defibrillator.
Through Robin's skill and calm under fire - plus several shots from the defib - I was handed over to the rushing paramedics, who went to work on the ride to hospital.
I wasn't out of trouble yet, and it was touch and go while the Sunshine Coast University Hospital emergency and intensive care teams did their thing.
I'm in the cardiac care ward now, awaiting installation of my own defib, which should make sure I can handle any repeats myself.
Their care, diagnoses and explanations have been greatly appreciated.
Without these magnificent people, I wouldn't be alive.
Thank you - I picked a wonderful place to die.