Minutes into a training session at his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym Garry was found motionless on the mat.
His heart stopped, he was clinically dead.
“I kept saying to myself I can’t stay here. I’ve got to get up, I’ve got to get up,” Garry said.
Long-time mate and training instructor Simon Farnsworth ran over to Garry after he heard a sickening moan. “I was just yelling out 'Gaz, Gaz!' and trying to shake him,” Simon said.
“I knew there was something dramatically wrong.”
Simon made the crucial decision to start CPR after telling someone to call Triple Zero (000). Inspector Kevin McSweeney and the paramedics were on the way. “Simon performing CPR was basically keeping Garry’s brain alive," Inspector McSweeney said.
"Good quality CPR certainly reduces the potential for brain damage."
Garry still doesn’t remember what happened that day as he reflected with his heroes at his home.
“I know those first few minutes are critical. I can’t thank Simon, Kevin and the paramedics enough - they saved my life,” Garry said. Insp McSweeney lauded the exceptional life-saving work performed by Simon and the boys at the gym.
Calling triple zero, starting CPR and waving down the ambulance, their actions gave Garry a fighting chance.
“Everyone played their part in helping us get to Garry, including the quality CPR from Simon,” Insp McSweeney said.
“These boys saved his life. We did our job but they kept him alive until we arrived. You can’t underestimate what Simon and those boys did.”
Simon explained the moment where he thought Garry was spiritually leaving his body but he just kept on pumping Garry’s chest while the paramedics were setting up to go to work around him.
“I thought he was gone...” Simon started before Insp McSweeney interrupted.
“When Simon says he thinks Garry was gone, well that’s because he was – he was dead,” he said. Garry often ponders his miraculous survival and is now pushing for young kids to be taught CPR and first aid at school.
“It should be mandatory at schools and we need to raise the awareness for bystanders,” Garry said.
“It can happen anywhere at any time.” Inspector McSweeney explained to Garry how lucky he was not to suffer any deficits.
“A lot of people get short term memory loss. The people that come back to a normal life like Garry has, the percentage is very low,” he said.
“It’s so important to have a defibrillator handy and do a first aid course if you have the opportunity.”