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30 November, 2021

Jacob thankful for life saving CPR

A MAREEBA family has put forward an important message after their quick response and CPR training saved the life of their 15-year-old son.

By Rhys Thomas

Jacob inspecting the very defibrillator that was used to shock him after his cardiac arrest.

Candy MacLaughlin and Paul Fagg were enjoying a usual Saturday in August, watching their son Jacob play soccer at the Mareeba United Football Club when he suddenly signaled to his parents. 

“It was just a normal Saturday soccer game like any other Saturday in the soccer season,” Candy said. 

“Jacob was playing his game and I remember he signaled to come off, he took two more steps and fell over. 

“I walked over and as soon as I crouched down I realised there was something really wrong.” 

Jacob had suffered a cardiac arrest on field, unconscious and unresponsive. Bystanders immediately sprang into action, calling the ambulance and assessing Jacob’s condition.

“After a short period of time I said to my husband ‘we need to start CPR’, the breaths coming in weren’t regular enough,” Candy said. 

“Luckily for both of us we were able to switch into that mode and commence CPR, not something you’d ever expect to have to do but I’m very grateful for the training I’ve had over the years. 

“You have a really loud voice inside your head saying ‘I’m not going to lose this child’.

“That’s my message to parents, please learn CPR because you just don’t know when it’s going to be your turn or your child.” 

For every minute without CPR the patients’ chances of survival from cardiac arrest decreases by seven to 10 per cent. 

Due to the heroic efforts of Candy, Paul and another CPR trained bystander, they were able to continue CPR until the ambulance arrived and took over care. 

Paramedics Lauren Turnbull, Nathan Ross and Matthew Ewing arrived onsite quickly and began assessing the situation.

Jacob (centre) with paramedics Nathan Ross, Lauren Turnbull and parents Candy MacLaughlin and Paul Fagg.

“Our initial assessment is look at the parents and see how their CPR is and if they’re doing a good job we will ask them to continue, which they were and that was fantastic,” Ms Turnbull said. 

After the paramedics set up they were able to take over and successfully bring Jacob back with a shock from a defibrillator – Jacob was then quickly taken to Cairns and onto Townsville. 

“Jacob is of similar age to my child so the impact of doing resuscitation on a child of similar age was very significant,” Mr Ross said. 

“To see him back here and see him so articulate, well and healthy is a privilege – this is one of the best parts of the job.” 

Jacob was put in the ICU while doctors tried to figure out the cause of his cardiac arrest. 

It was found that Jacob’s main artery to the left-hand side of his heart was in the wrong location and smaller than it should have been. He was then flown to Brisbane to undergo surgery. 

Jacob has no recollection of the day of his cardiac arrest or the day before and has slowly put together a picture from recollections from his parents and friends. 

“I was completely asleep all the way to Townsville for a couple of days, so I remember waking up in Townsville and seeing my mum, dad and nurses all around my bed looking at me,” he said. 

“I’m so thankful for my parents – the doctors told me that this could have happened on my motorbike while riding or swimming in a dam and no one would be there to help me.” 

Candy and Paul said that without their quick response and CPR training plus the assistance of others, the outcome of that August day could have been very different.

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