A life-saving clinical trial was called on for a man who collapsed at a Balgowlah supermarket.

Just after 1.30pm yesterday afternoon (Thursday, 08 February), emergency services responded to a report that a man in his 70s had collapsed and was being given CPR at the Aldi supermarket at Roseberry Street, Balgowlah.

The incident brought Roseberry Street to a near standstill as emergency services vehicles rushed to the area. Several units from Northern Beaches Police Area Command arrived to manage the public location and control traffic on the busy street.

Five NSW Ambulance crews also responded to the scene, including Intensive Care Paramedics, a specialised Extended Care Paramedic, NSW Ambulance Inspector Karen Nichols, and a critical care ‘ECMO’ team for the specialised treatment of cardiac arrest.

Man collapses at Aldi Balgowlah

Inspector Nichols was first on scene, arriving within minutes of the first Triple Zero (000) call, and at the same time as an officer from Northern Beaches Police Area Command. Together, they rushed into the supermarket to find bystanders had begun performing CPR.

They were told the man had collapsed and fallen down some stairs, before people came to his assistance. Inspector Nichols and the police officer brought the man to flat ground at the entrance of the store, and after confirming him to be in cardiac arrest, began resuscitation efforts.

Karen Nichols

Karen Nichols

Inspector Nichols praised the efforts of bystanders and other emergency services at the hectic scene.

“The bystanders who stepped in to conduct CPR are to be congratulated, and thanks to the joint effort with the wonderful NSW Police officer who was first on scene with me, we were able to get the man into a position we could begin treatment.

“Knowing CPR is a valuable skill for anyone to learn and can save a life,” said Inspector Nichols.

Man collapses at Aldi Balgowlah

Resuscitation efforts continued as additional crews arrived, including the specialist ECMO team who were on scene just after 2.00pm. ECMO stands for ‘extracorporeal membrane oxygenation’ — a form of heart and lung bypass, which provides blood flow and oxygen to the brain, heart and other vital organs. This allows time to identify and treat the cause of the cardiac arrest.

A treatment that is normally only available in hospital, NSW Ambulance introduced a world-first trial to have a mobile cardiac bypass machine with critical care paramedics working alongside specialist pre-hospital critical care doctors in a dedicated vehicle to treat cardiac arrest patients.

Taking ECMO to the patient can increase their rate of survival and a good neurological outcome by getting them onto the treatment earlier. For ECMO to be effective, patients must be placed onto the machine within an hour of their cardiac arrest. Mobile ECMO treatment has the potential to increase the survival rate of some patients in cardiac arrest from less than five percent to around 30 percent.

Following a successful resuscitation effort, the man was loaded into an Intensive Care Ambulance and taken in a serious condition to Northern Beaches Hospital with a police escort shortly after 2.30pm.

The Northern Beaches Advocate has contacted the hospital for an update on the man’s condition. This article will be updated when one is provided.

Anyone with up-to-date first aid and CPR skills is encouraged by NSW Ambulance to join the GoodSAM program. GoodSAM is integrated with the NSW Ambulance Triple Zero (000) dispatch system and connects volunteers to patients in the critical first minutes of a cardiac arrest until paramedics arrive. More information is available on the NSW Ambulance website.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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