Usually, that heading on a FlyStream story would preface a great fishing success, and it would come as no surprise attached to Rod’s name. After all, Rod and his sons Ash and Jack, are adventurous and dedicated Snowy Mountains flyfishers who frequently achieve fishing results most of us can only dream of.
Well, this time it’s not some remarkable catch of Rod’s I want to report on… it’s much more significant than that.
On 17 February, Rod was fishing Lake Eucumbene at Rushy Plains Bay near Frying Pan. He was fishing with a friend, visiting from Victoria. At the end of the night’s fishing, well after 10pm, they were walking back from the western bank at Rushy towards Home Bay, where most of the cars park. They spotted a torch. Not moving. Curious, they went to check what was happening and found a man face down, not breathing, and with no pulse.
At that moment, Rod did what we all hope we would be able to do in that situation. He started CPR whilst his friend drove up the road to get phone signal and call an ambulance.
Rod described the next hour as being a surreal, almost out-of-body experience. What makes Rod’s actions all the more amazing is that he has never had any CPR or first-aid training. What he knew was from Bondi Rescue. 30 compressions, 6 breaths. 30 compressions, 6 breaths. And on and on. Unbeknown to him, the ambulance had directed his friend to wait at the spot he had called from, to guide them in. So he had no idea if the ambulance was on its way. He was working completely in the dark, not even prepared to break CPR to get his head torch out of his backpack (or to stop for the smoke he was so desperate for). He simply lost track of time and was physically exhausted, keeping going on pure adrenalin, at some point remembering he had to eventually reduce the number of breaths each cycle to two when he felt dizzy and thought he was going to pass out. Eventually, he thought he heard the man take a breath. He stopped, checked, and continued uncertainly. Then another, then 30 seconds later, another. He knew to roll him into the recovery position, whereupon the man gave a long outbreath but no inbreath. Rod was torn. He had no idea if what he was doing was right, and even whether he should be doing it at all. He actually thought he might get into trouble and imagined the man’s family being angry with him. Then came a laboured inbreath and several seconds later, an outbreath. Within a few more long minutes, the man appeared to be breathing normally. Rod thinks this was a miracle, seeing someone come back to life. After a few garbled words, the man started to come around. His first words were, “Who the f..k are you?” Rod told me, laughingly, “Yeah, at least he spoke my language!”
Soon after, the man was safely strapped in the ambulance and receiving ‘proper’ (or should that simply be more?) medical care. That wasn’t quite the end of the story though, with the ambulance getting bogged on the way out! Twenty minutes and some judicious use of a snatch strap and they were on their way again.
Rod visited the man in Cooma hospital the next day and said he seemed fine. Since then, Rod has been thanked by his family. Let’s all hope he makes a good recovery.
For those of us who know Rod, it is no surprise he would do this for a complete stranger and it shows his true selflessness and courage. I could not be prouder to call him a friend, and knowing what he is capable of, I will feel just a bit safer when I’m fishing with him. Incidentally, Rod has since decided to take a first-aid course. No doubt all the other attendees are in for a bit of real life inspiration when they hear his story!
Editor’s note: As someone who has done a couple of first-aid courses, the most extraordinary feature of this story (among many) is that Rod was simply able to continue CPR for as long as he did – it is incredibly tiring physically; quite aside from what must have been a terrible mental drain. And the second thing which strikes me, is Rod having the courage to give it a go. When our first-aid instructor was asked about fear of liability, or simply not being good enough in a crisis, he said, “All anyone can ask is that you do the best you can, with what you’ve got.” I guess Rod’s actions are the ultimate proof of this simple advice. You’ve set an example for all of us Rod.