When Zoe Albrecht went to her regular training session last year, she had no idea she would end the day in hospital.
The healthy 29-year-old went into sudden and unexpected cardiac arrest mid-work out, and were it not for the quick thinking of Matt Geale, she might not be alive today.
Mr Geale is Ms Albrecht’s trainer and the owner of Camden South’s Soular Energy Fitness.
I don’t remember anything from that day. My family and Matt had to fill me in with what happened.
The Camden Park resident performed CPR for 30 minutes to save his client’s life.
“It wasn’t all my doing, a lot of other people played a huge part,” the 45-year-old said. “Fiona Rochester coordinated the scene and Simon O’Keefe called the ambulance. Everyone else who was there was doing whatever they could.
“I almost think I had the easier job – at least I had the opportunity to practically do something to help while others were forced to just wait around.”
Mr Geale has been recognised as an Aussie Heart Hero by the Australian Hearts organisation for his life-saving efforts.
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The organisation wants to see a defibrillation device in every Australian workplace by 2020 and is calling on state and federal governments to make this a reality.
In the meantime, Australian Hearts is appealing to community members to nominate people like Mr Geale who have saved a life with CPR or a defibrillator.
Everyone who nominates a hero goes into a draw to win a defib for their community.
Ms Albrecht said if there was a defibrillator nearby when she went into cardiac arrest, her recovery might have been easier.
“Had there been a defib there with someone trained to use it, that might have alleviated some of the memory loss I suffered,” the Cobbitty resident said.
“I don’t remember anything from that day. My family and Matt had to fill me in with what happened.
“We still don’t know why I went into cardiac arrest.”
Mr Geale said he was lucky he felt confident enough to perform CPR.
“I had to undergo the CPR course to become certified as a personal trainer,” the 45-year-old said. “I was running on autopilot. Zoe was such a fighter. She was still breathing, but not conscious, throughout the CPR.”
Mr Geale said he didn’t feel like a hero and was pleased Ms Albrecht, now 30, was doing well and back at training.