Survivor Stories – Peter Morrissey

Peter Morrissey was a regular morning swimmer at Merewether baths but on February 10th 2020 he was lucky that the water was too dirty to swim. Instead of a swim he decided to walk along the beach to Dixon Park and back and then did some laps up and down the stairs behind the baths. Peter was in his early 60’s and had never had any symptoms suggestive of heart disease prior to suffering a sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack at the top of the stairs that morning.

The only symptoms Peter experienced was feeling faint at the top of the stairs. He can remember reaching for handrail, but missed and fell the down the first flight.

Paul Davies was running a fitness bootcamp on the beach and answered calls for help. He noted that Peter was unresponsive and that his breathing was abnormal. He knew from prior first aid training that he should start chest compressions. Paul was assisted in the chest compressions by other bystanders and an ambulance was called.

The Newcastle City Council baths attendant also assisted with CPR. Amy DeLore, happened to be exercising nearby, and raced down the stairs to obtain the AED from the Merewether Baths first aid station. Paul had never used an AED but he attached it easily, using the verbal instructions when AED activated, and delivered 2 shocks to Peter that defibrillated his heart. Paramedics arrived soon after and transported Peter to hospital stable, partially awake but a bit confused. After stenting of a blocked coronary artery, Peter has made a full recovery.

Peter is one of the small percentage of people who survive a cardiac arrest and heart attack. Early recognition of his cardiac arrest, prompt chest compressions by brave bystanders and application of a nearby AED saved his life.

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