Bulletin #51 - Prevention and Response     

Mates star in heart-stopping pool drama Pool drama
Subiaco Post, Page: 1
Saturday, 27 June 2009
Robert Larbalestier kept his mate Geoff Fisher alive for 45 minutes when his heart stopped in the pool at Challenge Stadium.

The 61-year-old Subiaco photographer had swum 1.2km in training with members of the City Beach Polo Bears when his friends saw he was in trouble.

Robert, a heart and lung transplant surgeon, was among those who caught him, hauled him out of the water and started to resuscitate him with chest compressions.

"He did not have a pulse," Robert said.
Also on hand was Anne Brinkworth, medical emergency team co-ordinator at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and other trained professionals.

"If you are going to have a cardiac arrest, Geoff did it with all the right people around," she said.

Caption Text:
Geoff Fishe, right, has heartfelt thanks for Robert Larbalestier who helped save his life 

Geoff and Robert joked about the rescue this week when Robert visited his friend in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Three of Geoff"s ribs were broken during the CPR.
"We íve got a few doctors in the group and I asked Robert if we had a lawyer so I could sue for my broken ribs," he said.

"But seriously, I owe everything to Robert and everyone else who helped.

"How do you thank someone for saving your life? The words come out but they don ít sound adequate." The heart surgeon and the photographer have been friends for about eight years siiice Robert commissioned Geoff to take photographs of his family and then joined the water polo team.

Robert said three others helped him keep Geoff ís heart going.

"You have to do it hard and fast," he said. "If you are really doing it properly you cannot do it very long at all." Steve Redbond. a Cottesloe surf lffesaver and another doctor each took five minutes stints with Robert, pumping Geoff ís chest.

"All resuscitations are confronting and you have to focus on what you are doing," Robert said.

The friends kept going with the manual resuscitation while staff tracked down the stadium ís heart defibrillator.

Centre manager Rob Verboon, another friend of GeoWs, said there had been a delay of about seven minutes because the machine was at the opposite end of the complex.

He said stadium staff used a two-way radio to call for the heart machine but a new member of staff could not find it in the reception area at the front of the stadium.

A staff member ran the 200m from the pool at the back of the complex to get it.

Mr Verboon said staff followed emegency procedures and called an ambulance and evacuated swimmers from four other pools.

The procedure for emergencies was for a staff member to meet the ambulance at the main entrance.

"I think there have been some second and third calls for the ambulance by other people who may have suggested it enter via McGillivray Road," he said.

He said staff called him at home nearby and when he arrived at the stadium he found it was his friend being put into the ambulance.

"He is very close to all of us at the stadium. He has done a lot of work for us as well as using the facilities," Mr Verboon said.

"There were some human stresses involved." Since the incident a second defibrifiator costing about $4000 had been bought and was now stored at the back of the complex, he said.

Geoff is now looking forward to a jog on the beach, and says staff have kept his business, Fisher Photography ticking over as usual.

His sister Robyn, who helps him run the business in Hay Street, Subiaco, said Geoff was in an induced coma on a refrigerated bed for 24 hours.

Nurses in the intensive care unit told her Geoff ís temperature kept rising.

"I said he is so rebellious it was typical of him," she said.

Robyn said her brother was irrepressible.

"Although Geoff is in hospital, he has managed to call us most days and still has his business hat on." Geoff said he played water polo, swam four days a week cycled and went to the gym in-between.

He has swum to Rottnest and played waterpolo most of his life.

He said he had had a cold and felt odd while swimming the week before.

Minutes before he collapsed he had made a swimming sprint to catch a mate ís flippers at Challenge Stadium.

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