Everything and everyone seemed ready for the lawn bowls singles championship at Lavington Panthers last August. The rinks were marked out on the greens, and players were paired up for their matches. Even the weather was cooperating; it was a sunny late winter day. Participants laid their mats and cast their jacks to begin the tournament. Just an hour into the competition, however, it was clear that only one player — Don Fraser — was truly prepared for the events of the morning.
Don Fraser was a regular at the club and had seen fellow member Jeff Iles around. That day, they happened to be playing in adjacent rinks on the bowling green. Jeff and his opponent were tied at 26 all. Don was behind in his match but had just started making a comeback when he noticed Jeff pitch headfirst onto the green. He assumed Jeff had tripped but kept an eye on the situation. When Jeff didn’t immediately get up, Don ran to where Jeff was lying on the green and turned him over. Jeff was unresponsive and beginning to turn blue. He appeared to be in sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
“It was the first time I’ve used [an AED] in a life-threatening situation. The instructions were easy to understand.”— Don Fraser
Quick and decisive action needed
Don heard the other players in Jeff’s rink saying they didn’t know what to do, so Don took charge of the situation. He asked one bowler to get the automated external defibrillator (AED) from the clubhouse and another to call emergency services. Don began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
Jeff Iles (left) and Don Fraser (right) present a ZOLL AED Plus to the Lavington Panthers Bowls Club President Rob Rankin. This AED will be kept closer to the outdoor greens, cutting down on crucial time to retrieve it in the event of a cardiac emergency.
Lavington Panthers Bowling Club keeps its AED in the clubhouse, upstairs and about 50 meters away from the outdoor lawn bowling greens. Don had administered CPR for four to eight minutes before someone was able to retrieve the ZOLL AED Plus® defibrillator and bring it to him on the outdoor greens. He attached the electrodes and the device immediately advised a shock. After it delivered the shock, it instructed Don to continue CPR. Shortly thereafter, Jeff was breathing on his own. Don put Jeff on his side in the recovery position just as EMTs arrived.
Although he’d been through CPR training for work, Don had never actually used an AED. “It was the first time I’ve used one in a life-threatening situation. The instructions were easy to understand,” says Don.
Sudden onset of classic symptoms
Prior to the incident, Jeff recalls suddenly feeling hot and dizzy while walking from one end of the rink to the other, thinking he ought to sit down. Next, he remembers lying in the recovery position, hearing the audio prompts from the ZOLL® AED repeating the phrase “Continue compressions,” wondering what happened. EMTs arrived on scene and transported Jeff to a local hospital, where doctors found no serious blockages that required intervention. Jeff’s SCA was attributed to an abnormal heart rhythm, also known as an arrhythmia, which can make the heart suddenly stop beating properly. He was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to prevent any future occurrences and was back home in four days.
Bowlers bond over averted tragedy
Luckily, Jeff only lost a match that day and not his life. It was incredibly fortunate that Lavington Panthers had an AED on site and that Don was brave enough to step in to provide CPR when no one else knew what to do. The experience forged a bond between the avid lawn bowlers. Jeff has dubbed them the “wonders from down under”. Jeff and Don both wish they’d bowled better on that day in August, but they continue to play in championships and approach life with renewed appreciation.