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HIS training in CPR was three decades old, but when Les Clayton’s instincts kicked in on Thursday he almost certainly helped save a child’s life.
Mr Clayton was among a group of people who raced to the aid of the nine-year-old boy who collapsed on Collingwood Beach, Vincentia, on Thursday after suffering cardiac arrest.
Mr Clayton, the boy’s parents and other bystanders worked on the boy until paramedics arrived.
The boy was airlifted to Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick where he remains in a serious condition.
Witnesses said the boy was swimming and chasing a plastic bag along the sand at the popular Jervis Bay swimming spot prior to his collapse.
At the time, Mr Clayton, who lives across the road was taking his garbage bins out to the front of his house when he heard a woman screaming out for anyone who knew CPR.
Thirty years ago, while working at a regional airport in New Zealand, Mr Clayton had been trained in first aid.
Although it seemed like a lifetime ago, in the seconds it took him to run to the boy lying on the beach, that training was with him.
“It all happened very quickly, the boy’s mum called out for help and I just responded. Someone was in trouble and needed help,” Mr Clayton said.
As he approached the scene the child’s physical state underlined the gravity of the situation.
“He was in a bad way, he looked terrible, had no pulse and he was not breathing. It was awful.”
Mr Clayton said a man was giving the boy mouth to mouth and they instantly started working together to help get oxygen to the boy’s brain.
“My CPR training just came back to me, all that training so many years ago, it was just there. I was a bit astounded,” Mr Clayton said.
“We kept going until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics shocked him with a defibrillator and it worked.
“To see him come back to life was amazing to me,” Mr Clayton said.
“I guess the thing I would like to come out of all this is for people to realise how important learning first aid is.
“Don’t underestimate your training, I did it a long time ago and it’s still relevant today. You never think you’re going to need it.”
Mr Clayton is a humble man who does not consider himself a hero but local ambulance paramedics disagree.
Ambulance paramedic and Nowra station officer Wayne Dunlop was in no doubt that what Mr Clayton did save the boy’s life.
“That’s the only reason this child is still alive,” he said.
“The boy was in full cardiac arrest when ambulance paramedics arrived.”
Once at the scene, the paramedics told Les to keep going while they set up their equipment.
“On arrival the paramedics thought Les was doing a tremendous job.
“It was effective CPR and if there is effective CPR the chances of survival are far greater.
“It assists the patient’s outcome by keeping the circulation going, it keeps them viable.
“Les did very well. He would have made a massive difference to the outcome, it was well done.”
Ambulance paramedics used a defibrillator on the patient and assisted his breathing.
When they handed the patient over to the ambulance helicopter crew he was in a serious condition but was breathing on his own and had a pulse.
Although resuscitation methods and techniques involved in CPR have changed many times over the years, Mr Dunlop said taking almost any action is better than doing nothing.