Brother and sister save mum’s life

Letitia BusniakGeraldton Guardian

Years of first aid training have paid off for a Geraldton brother and sister after their quick thinking saved the life of their elderly mother.

Shane Higgins and Christine Barndon’s efforts have been praised by local St John Ambulance staff, after the pair jumped into action when their mum, Maureen Higgins, suffered a heart attack.

Mr Higgins and his wife had just left after visiting Mrs Higgins at her home when she began having chest pain.

After an unsuccessful attempt to contact the couple, who were on another call, Mrs Higgins rang her daughter Christine who immediately jumped in the car and phoned triple-0 on the way to the house.

After she reached her brother minutes later, Mr Higgins raced back to the house and guided his mother to an armchair, but within seconds her condition deteriorated and she stopped breathing.

Frightened to move her and risk further injury, Mr Higgins began to resuscitate his mum in a sitting position while his wife Sue went to flag down the ambulance.

Once attending paramedic Scott Rastall and volunteer level one officer Annalisa Mitchell arrived, the team worked together to move Mrs Higgins to the floor where they continued CPR and began defibrillation.

On the way to the Geraldton Regional Hospital, Mr Higgins said he was positive they’d be coming home without their mum.

“I was so positive we had lost her and we’d be following a hearse to the hospital,” he admitted.

“But once we arrived Scott was waiting for us outside and said she was already sitting up talking. I couldn’t believe it, she deteriorated so quickly and her heart had stopped, I was so sure we’d be saying goodbye.

“I used a few profanities at that stage I was in so much shock.”

Mrs Higgins was in good spirits when her son and daughter were able to visit her for the first time.

“The first thing she said to me was, ‘fancy kissing your mother, I wish you had let the good-looking paramedic do it’,” Mr Higgins said.

Mrs Higgins is now recovering in a Perth hospital after having surgery to clear a blocked artery in her heart.

By his mum’s side, Mr Higgins said he wanted to thank St John Ambulance staff for all they’d done.

“The ambos who came to the house were so calm and just handled everything so well,” he said.

“As part of my 33 years with CBH, I’ve been required to do a first-aid course every three years with SJA and I’m so thankful for that now.

“Even the way my sister handled things and called the ambulance straight away, everyone just worked so well together.”

The ambulance officers also went to visit Mrs Higgins in hospital, and were glad to hear she was doing well.

Paramedic Mr Rastall said the siblings’ quick-thinking had made all the difference.

“Shane and Christine did every-thing right,” he said.

“Their knowledge of first aid and the way they stayed calm and were able to assist us really helped.

“It goes to show why first aid is so important to know. Those first few minutes can make a big difference.”

For information on St John Ambulance courses, visit the website at www.stjohnambulance.com.au

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