When the former head of Wollongong Hospital's emergency department collapsed after his heart suddenly stopped, his colleagues weren't on the spot to step in with their advanced life-saving skills.
Fortunately for Dr Richard Pryor, a tradie who saw him fall to the ground on an Austinmer street was proficient in CPR, and able to keep him alive until paramedics arrived on the scene.
They were able to use a defibrillator to shock the 52-year-old's heart back into rhythm before transporting him to his ED, and safely into the hands of his expert team of emergency physicians and heart specialists.
On global 'Restart a Heart' Day today both Dr Pryor, and one of the Illawarra paramedics who came to his aid Matt Sterling, want to raise awareness of the importance of learning CPR, and having access to defibrillators in the community.
"I'm an avid runner and try to do a marathon every year," Dr Pryor said. "However one day last May I was returning home from a training run to my Austinmer home when I just suddenly collapsed.
"I don't remember anything but fortunately a tradie working across the road saw me go down, ran over and administered CPR and kept me alive until the ambulance got there.
"Paramedics were able to shock me with a defibrillator to get my heart back into the normal rhythm and get me to hospital for further emergency care."
Dr Pryor spent a week in intensive care at the hospital, and another week in the coronary care unit.
Investigations revealed he suffered from spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD, which occurs when a tear forms in one of the blood vessels in the heart.
The rare condition can slow or block blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack, abnormalities in heart rhythm or sudden death.
It differs to the leading cause of heart attack, coronary artery disease, where buildup of fatty deposits causes blockages.
Inspector Sterling said heart attack was a common cause of cardiac arrest.
"From a paramedics' perspective, we don't have the ability to determine the underlying cause of cardiac arrest immediately," he said.
"Our role is to determine whether the dysrhythmia is able to be defibrillated, and to shock the heart to restore a normal rhythm."
Inspector Sterling said paramedics recognised Dr Pryor from the hospital, so messaged ahead to alert staff.
"When you know someone it adds that psychological factor to the job so we notified the hospital to prepare staff that we were bringing one of their colleagues in."
Insp Sterling praised the efforts of those who stepped in to call Triple 0, and to commence CPR.
"The effective cardiac compressions by the tradesman simulated the blood flow to protect the organs and the brain," he said.
Dr Pryor, a father of two who continues to work at Wollongong's ED, also gave thanks to those who saved his life.
"I have been able to thank the tradie, and the paramedics, in person," he said. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here."
On the global awareness day, NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan stressed the importance of timely intervention.
"Every minute of cardiac arrest your chances of survival reduce by seven to 10 per cent therefore it's vital that we partner with the community to commence CPR and if possible use a defribrillator prior to the paramedics arrival," Dr Morgan said.
"If people remember nothing else they need to recall the slogan 'Call ... Push ... Shock'."