Heart set on saving lives

Original yellow Wiggle’s near-death experience inspires defibrillator awareness initiative.

Like many Australians who experience cardiac arrest, Greg Page didn’t see it coming.

The original yellow Wiggle made international headlines in January after going into sudden cardiac arrest during a Wiggles reunion concert to raise money for bushfire relief. 

“I don’t remember actually collapsing, but I remember lying on the ground and struggling to breathe,” Mr Page said.

“There were no warning signs that night that would say, ‘Hang on, you’re having a heart attack’.”

When Mr Page regained consciousness in hospital, he discovered he was among just 10 percent of people to survive a sudden cardiac arrest.

“Two things that really played a key part in my survival were cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that four people did on me that night and the use of an AED, or Automated External Defibrillator,” he said.

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“Most cardiac arrest events will be because the heart has gone into a type of abnormal rhythm and an AED delivers a shock to the heart that resets the rhythm.

“Those two points of intervention can mean the difference between life and death for somebody who’s in cardiac arrest.”

The lifesaving intervention from bystanders inspired Mr Page to found Heart of the Nation, an initiative to recognise businesses, workplaces and community hubs that have AEDs on site, ready to save lives.

“Heart of the Nation exists to promote awareness of AED locations throughout Australia and recognise those businesses that take the prevention of sudden cardiac death seriously,” Mr Page said.

“If a business or an organisation has an AED, they are qualified to be a member of Heart of the Nation.

“All you have to do is stick one of our stickers in your window so that people know that you have an AED if it is ever needed to be used.”

“To me, it would be an absolute tragedy if there was an AED around that could actually save somebody’s life and it couldn’t be used because of lack of awareness.”

Mr Page said anyone could help save a life by performing CPR or using an AED.

“We know from research that the use of CPR and an AED in cardiac arrest situations increases the chance of survival from 10 percent up to around 70 percent, so that’s a massive difference,” he said.

“You can’t stuff it up with an AED because it does all the work for you. It’ll tell you when to do CPR and chest compressions, it’ll tell you when to stop, it’ll tell you when to push the shock button on the AED.

“So even if you haven’t been trained, any attempt at CPR is going to be better than no attempt and you can walk away, regardless of the outcome, and know that you’ve done everything you could to save that person.”

RACQ is a member of Heart of the Nation.