An off-duty paramedic saved the life of a fellow bus commuter who “died” after suffering a massive heart attack.
ER24 Paramedic Asaph Alexander from Mitchells Plain was on his way to work in Cape Town yesterday morning when he noticed a male passenger in distress.
Asaph, 39, who was standing in the aisle of the packed bus, says when they came onto Ottery Road, he saw the unknown man in his forties, getting up from his seat.
He says: “I thought maybe he is giving someone a seat or getting off the bus but then he went and sat down again.
“He grabbed at his chest and said he had pains in his chest and arm.”
Asaph says people started panicking and wanted to get off the bus, “probably because they didn’t want to see a dead body”.
The medic, who was dressed in his red uniform, immediately sprang into action when he noticed the man fainting.
He says: “I checked his breathing pattern on his chest and saw no signs of life, including his pulse, which we call clinically dead.”
Asaph knew the man would be dead within minutes as the oxygen leaves the heart cavity, and started performing CPR.
“I knew he was having a heart attack. I began doing chest compressions. After that there was what we call ‘ROCS’ which is the return of spontaneous circulation.”
Asaph told the bus driver to head to Ottery Fire Station where paramedics were waiting for him and the patient: “The ECG machine showed he suffered a major heart attack.”
The man was then transferred to Victoria Hospital where he was doing well.
For Asaph, who has been a paramedic for 10 years, it was just another day out in the field.
“This is what we do every day, it’s about saving lives and seeing that person happy with their families.”
ER 24 spokesman Russel Meiring urged members of the public to learn basic CPR, “as early intervention can mean the difference between life and death”.