Selfless act in the midst of COVID earns Bravery Award

19 October 2020

On a Saturday morning in March this year Helen Deller and daughter Alison Rowley had arranged to catch up at a local Dawesville park. COVID-19 restrictions had just been put in place in WA, which meant that Alison’s children had just completed their first day of home schooling and Alison herself had just worked from home for the first time - life was a little out of the ordinary and some fresh air and outdoor time was much needed!

Alison says when she arrived at the park with her children Helen was already there. “Mum was hovering over a lady who had passed out on the grassed area. When I approached, I noticed that my mum was on the phone to 000 and the lady’s face was extremely blue/purple and her eyes were rolled back into her head.” The woman was clearly in need of a CPR response so Alison immediately started to perform chest compressions in an attempt to bring her back to life.

COVID had been all over the news and Alison says she was immediately aware of all the advise to stay 1.5 metres away from everyone, but she had to do something! “I knew that people had survived COVID and I thought that if I contracted the disease and I saved her life, this was a better outcome than her dying. When someone is in a situation where they need assistance to survive the need to 'stay away' does not enter the human mind. This is someone’s mum, grandma, sister, friend, workmate. This person needs to be here on this earth.”

The 000-operator advised Alison not to provide mouth to mouth, but to continue with chest compressions as that is the most important part of CPR. Helen also assisted in providing chest compressions to allow Alison to rest as they waited for the emergency crews to arrive. Alison says it took a little longer than normal for the paramedics to be on the scene. “They had to cut the chain to get into the park and then get “kitted up” for COVID regulations - it seemed like an hour but it was probably 20 minutes."

Once paramedics were finally able to attend to the woman, they shocked her twice with a defibrillator to regulate her heart rate before transferring her to the ambulance and then onto the hospital. Unfortunately, after 3 weeks in hospital, the woman’s life support was switched off and after 3 days of her breathing on her own, she passed away.

Alison says it was a bittersweet moment when they found out the woman had not made it. “I feel that my mum and I gave her the best chance of survival and allow her family to say goodbye. For her family to receive a phone call to say their mum or grandma had a heart attack and has been taken to the hospital was a much better response than a phone call to say ‘your mum has had a heart attack and died’.”

For Alison the importance of having first aid and CPR skills is a part of her everyday life, as she works at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre assisting with the facilitation of CPR and First Aid courses for Royal Life Saving WA. Alison says it’s a skill that could be called upon at any time. “You never know when you may need to help someone. I would welcome anyone to either start their journey or requalify their skills with us and am happy for people to contact me at the centre to find out how we can support them in learning this much needed life support skill.”

For their selfless act in attempting to save this woman’s life Alison and Helen recently received Gold Medallion Bravery Awards from Royal Life Saving WA. Unfortunately due to COVID travel restrictions Helen was unable to be in Perth to receive her award which was accepted by her granddaughter AvaJean in her place.

If you know someone who has responded to save the life of someone else we'd like to ensure their efforts can also be recognised. Why not nominate them for next year's Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards? You can find out more at the link below.

Explore more button