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Life of Melbourne woman who had cardiac arrest saved by quick-thinking from supermarket workers

When Mary Brockhoff went into cardiac arrest in a Melbourne supermarket, shelve-stackers stepped in and saved her life.

“I actually don’t remember anything,” Ms Brockhoff told ABC Radio Melbourne.

After Ms Brockhoff collapsed, two supermarket workers administered a defibrillator twice before paramedics arrived on the scene 17 minutes later.

After being taken to Box Hill Hospital, Ms Brockhoff remained remained in a coma for five days.

“I was just shopping with my daughter, and I collapsed, and these beautiful 20-year-old boys … came to my rescue, they just acted immediately,” she said.

Ms Brockhoff said the heart attack came as a surprise as she wasn’t classed as at risk.

“I’m only 51, I’m fit, I’m healthy, I walk regularly … it was just out of the blue,” she said.

With less than 10 per cent of people surviving a cardiac arrest, Ms Brockhoff said it was a “miracle”.

“I’m recovering [and] adjusting to the new medication … so I’m very blessed that I survived,” she said.

Heart attack can happen to anyone
Ambulance Victoria paramedic Chris Hastings treated Ms Brockhoff and said the situation would have been tense for the supermarket workers.

“It can be a very daunting thing for people to witness someone collapse and then be instructed to forcefully push on someone’s chest and to try and get their heart going again … so commendation to the young men,” Mr Hasting said.

He said there were lots of moving parts that made the difference between life and death.

“They would have had to quickly identify that Mary wasn’t breathing by asking the appropriate questions then advise the gentleman to do CPR until the arrival of the fire services,” Mr Hastings said.

He said the event should prompt people to brush up on their CPR skills and enrol in a first-aid course.

“The thing about cardiac arrest is it can happen to anyone … and it can happen to people in situations where people are leat expecting it,” he said.

Back on track
For Ms Brockhoff, life is slowly getting back to where it was before her heart attack.

“I’ll be able to return to work in the coming weeks [but] I can’t drive for six months, which is a bit of bummer,” she said.

“I’ll forever be grateful to those two boys.”