A Dapto woman has used first aid skills from rugby league training to save a man's life after a tree branch fell on his head while at a Cataract picnic area on Sunday.
Paramedics praised Kylie Smith's heroic actions following the 'freak accident'.
The retail worker, who was enjoying a family Christmas celebration nearby, was quick-thinking, calm and in control when she started performing CPR on the 65-year-old man who went into traumatic cardiac arrest.
A heavy tree branch crashed onto the Parramatta man while he was sitting at a picnic table, causing a serious head injury about 2pm.
When Ms Smith reached the man, whose head was resting on his son-in-law's lap, adrenaline and her training kicked in and she started administering first aid while 20 bystanders watched on.
"I have done my footy first aid training and I'm used to dealing with blood and head wounds but when I got down from the top of the hill, the man was laying on the ground, dead," she said.
"I shouted, 'is there a pulse' and started doing CPR.
"My brother-in-law Matt Weaver came to help and he got people to move away as some people were taking videos and photos.
"Another man called Triple 0 and I was trying to listen to the operator but everyone was talking."
Ms Smith said a Water NSW employee arrived and she asked him to go get a defibrillator while she continued compressions.
Once the employee came back with the machine, the pair used it, continuing to do compressions and breaths.
"I got some sort of rhythm in his heart that I maintained until the ambulances arrived," she said.
"I thought it took hours but I was doing CPR for about 20 minutes."
Ms Smith said her brother-in-law took over the compressions at some points too as her body was sore from the pressure.
She said the man did not wake up, and she could not feel a pulse, but she kept going, not wanting to give up on him.
Ms Smith said she had never had to perform CPR on someone before and was proud of the way she was able to keep everyone calm, especially the man's family.
"No one was doing anything when I got to him," she said. "I yelled out that I needed scissors to cut the man's shirt and someone gave me a car key.
"It was very overwhelming. My arms and hips hurt as the man was in an awkward position between the table and the tree.
"The tree branch was green and heavy. I tried to kick it away and I couldn't move it."
Once paramedics arrived, the man needed to be shocked nine times before he was stable enough to be airlifted to Liverpool Hospital.
He remained in a critical condition as of Monday afternoon.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Norm Rees praised the efforts of bystanders who provided assistance to the man.
"The tree branch was a significant size - around six to eight inches in diameter - and it fell around 10 to 12 metres and hit the man on his head and knocked him out," he said.
"Bystanders then commenced CPR, which helped keep him viable until paramedics arrived.
"There were also two to three dozen other families enjoying picnics together when the freak incident happened so it was quite a chaotic scene."
Ms Smith encouraged everyone to learn CPR and first aid as it helped her save the man's life.
"I have done training course through rugby league, where I did compressions on dummies but it is nothing like that. Everyone should have some sort of training," she said.
Ms Smith said the man's distraught family, which included his wife, daughter and son-in-law, were grateful to her and others who assisted.
A Water NSW spokesman said "our thoughts go out to the injured person and their loved ones" however did not comment further as the matter was being investigated by police.
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