It started out as an ordinary day at Springwood for Allen Gill. The boys were jumping in to help out the Ipswich Cats’ Masters side, down on numbers, and Allen was putting the boots back on for the first time in over 20 years. Sandie Gill and her friends chuckled at the ongoing commentary from the incoming Cats top ups, about how sore they were going to be the following morning.
The siren echoed around the ground, the masters cracked in and Allen acquitted himself admirably in his first game back.
He sat down next to Sandie with a cold drink, then, quite suddenly, he fell forward onto his face. It was strange and out of character for Allen, thought Sandie, as she grabbed him and rolled him over, asking, “what are you doing?”
Sandie will never forget the noise he made, the infamous ‘death rattle.’ Allen’s face had turned bright purple and looked considerably swollen.
“Get an ambulance, he’s having a heart attack,” she yelled, as his face changed again, going ghostly white.
After that, her main memory is one of panic, as club members of the Pumas and the visiting Ipswich Cats sprang into action, pulling Sandie away from her husband as they performed CPR.
She thought he was gone.
In a way, she was right, because Allen was technically dead for five minutes. If the responders on the scene hadn’t had a defibrillator on hand, traditional CPR alone would likely have failed to save his life. Luckily, they grabbed the ‘defib’ and kept Allen alive till the Ambulance arrived.
“I’m thinking no, you’re not leaving me,” says Sandie.
“I need my husband.”
A defibrillator is a device used in emergency situations to apply an electric current to the heart. They come in different shapes and sizes, but many have an audio feature that instructs the user on how to apply pads to the chest and when to use the shock. The device used in this particular case was a defibrillator from Defib For Life, an organization that supplies ‘Defibs’ and increases awareness about their importance, managed by Sue Buckman and Paramedic Andrew White.
Sue’s involvement in the company was prompted after her 19-year-old son Stephen, tragically passed away in 2010, after going into cardiac arrest during a football training session. Sue continues to make an incredible contribution through Defib For Life and Allen and Sandie are now beneficiaries of her influential work.
There has been a ‘thank you’ barbeque with the Ipswich Cats and one in the pipeline for Springwood, but Allen was still unsure of how to adequately express his gratitude.
“What we want to do, is pay it forward, and get it out there,” says Sandie.
“If we can save one life, that’s amazing.”
In response to the incident, Sandie and Allen have started a fundraiser on MyCause, to raise money toward continuing Sue Buckman’s work at Defib For Life.
“We want to give back and we want to make sure every club, AFL clubs, every sporting club has a defib,” says Sandie.
The Pumas defib was installed after last year in July, when father of two Andrew Colbey collapsed and subsequently died, playing a Masters game at Springwood.
“Don’t take anything for granted,” says Sandie.
“It sort of puts things into reality, as to what’s important and what’s not.”
By Sean Melrose