Son's arrival helps dad wake after heart attack

The first time Wombarra resident Chris Stimson opened his eyes after suffering a life-threatening heart attack was when his son, a soldier who had been serving in Afghanistan, walked into his hospital room.

Henry Stimson left his unit in Tarinkot as soon as he learnt his father had been taken to hospital, travelling for 36 hours to be by his side.

"I got a message from my boss that dad had a heart attack and to call my mum as soon as I could," Major Stimson said.

"I spoke to mum and we made the decision that it would be best for me to come home."

Heart attack warning signs save lives

Yesterday, Mr Stimson was presented with a Cardiac Arrest Survivor Award, recognising his out-of-hospital resuscitation, the success rate of which is a dramatically low 3 per cent.

Paramedics who were first on the scene estimated Mr Stimson's heart had stopped for up to 20 minutes, meaning his chances of survival were extremely slim.

Mr Stimson's wife Diana was just waking up on November 5 this year when she noticed her husband "suddenly lurch".

"[He was] sitting bolt upright but he was totally unresponsive," she said.

"I tried to wake him ... but he wouldn't so I stopped bothering and called triple-0."

On the phone, Mrs Stimson, who happens to be a retired nurse, was instructed to commence CPR.

It was this action that has been credited with saving her husband's life.

"At the time I was overwhelmed, numb ... I didn't know I'd saved his life," she said.

Mrs Stimson maintained the compressions until the first ambulance arrived eight minutes later, when paramedics Matthew Vernon and Craig McCann took over. They were later joined by paramedics Carolyn Margetts and Howard Hughes.

"The paramedics were very cautious, it wasn't for 24 hours that they realised his chance of surviving was more likely than not," Mrs Stimson said.

"We still couldn't know how the deprivation of oxygen would affect him.

"But when Henry came home I took him into the hospital ... he said 'hello dad' and Christopher opened his eyes wide and stared at him."

Mr Stimson spent several more weeks in both Wollongong and Bulli hospitals.

A smoker since age 14, 72-year-old Mr Stimson has since given up the habit.

"I haven't had a cigarette since the incident and I don't intend to," he said.

"As boring as it sounds, take notice of health advice and do as you're told.

"We have so many people to be thankful for, from the call taker and paramedics, to the Department of Defence and the staff of Wollongong and Bulli hospitals."

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