Michael’s Story

The odds of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest are 9%. The odds of surviving one being neurologically intact are 3%. I’m one of the lucky 3% and this is my story

– Michael Inverarity

Michael had been a runner for most of his life. He enjoyed the freedom and the rush of endorphins that came with every stride he took. So, when he and his family went on a trip to the Flinders Ranges, he couldn’t resist signing up for the Pichi Richi Marathon. He had completed other marathons before, including the City to Bay when he was just 11 years old and the Berlin Marathon in 2008, where he broke the four-hour mark.

The morning of the marathon, Michael woke up early, feeling excited but also a bit apprehensive. He didn’t know why he was feeling this way, but he brushed it off, thinking it was just pre-race jitters. He and his family made their way to the starting line, and soon, the race began.

The first 10 kilometers of the marathon went smoothly for Michael. He was feeling good, enjoying the scenery and the camaraderie of the other runners. However, as he started on a predominantly uphill section of the course, Michael began to feel the strain. The warm sun beat down on him, and he found himself slowing down.

It was during the 38th kilometer that everything changed. Michael’s heart suddenly went into an ectopic rhythm, sending him into cardiac arrest. He collapsed onto the ground, gasping for air.

By chance, two St John Ambulance volunteers had been in the area, responding to another runner who had fallen and cut their head. They rushed over to Michael, recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest. One of the volunteers, who had over 30 years of experience, ran to the St John SA vehicle to retrieve a defibrillator. By the time she returned, Michael had stopped breathing, and his eyes had rolled to the back of his head.

The volunteers quickly sprang into action, performing CPR and using the defibrillator to shock Michael’s heart back into a normal rhythm. After regaining consciousness, Michael was taken to a hospital in Quorn, then flown to the Coronary Care Unit at Flinders Medical Centre. He underwent several tests on his heart, when it was discovered he had a heart disease.

Without the quick work of the St John SA volunteers, Michael knows he may not be here today. He has been quoted saying “I have been told more than once not to buy a lottery ticket because ‘you have already won'”.

With your generosity, St John Ambulance Australia SA can continue to deliver life saving training and equipment all over the state, helping thousands of South Australians, like Michael, every single year.