Could any of us confidently say that when faced with a life or death experience, we could remain calm and composed enough to carry out what is necessary? Cause that was exactly what five secondary school students from Ayer Itam, Penang managed to do.
14-year-old St John Ambulance Malaysia (SJAM) cadet, Ansley Tan Zhong, first noticed Long Soo Keat, 49, passing out during a football match at Chung Ling High School in Ayer Itam, Penang. For the next 12 minutes, five teenagers did all they could to bring Long back from the brink of death.
The Star spoke to Ansley, SJAM L/Cpl Gabriel Soon Chai Long and SJAM Pvt Liong Jun Yong (both 16), as well as cadets S Shaman and Tang Yi Ze (both 14), after their debriefing session at the SJAM headquarters.
Recalling the incident, Ansley said that he rushed to the real-estate agent when he saw the man collapse on the field and then called out to his five SJAM team members to help. That was when their senior, 16-year-old Gabriel, realised that Long was about to die.
“His pulse was irregular and then stopped. He was gasping heavily. We call that agonal breathing, the sign of a heart attack,” said Gabriel.
Quick thinking, Ansley asked a bystander to fetch an AED from one of the emergency AED kiosks on the school grounds by breaking the glass and unlocking it. Gabriel then attached the AED to Long’s chest for it to analyse Long’s condition. The AED voice-prompt told Gabriel to perform cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Long.
For those who are like us and have no idea what an AED is: Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a battery-operated, portable device that checks heart rhythm and uses voice prompts to tell users if and when an electric shock needs to be sent to the heart.
Even though Gabriel had practiced CPR many times, this was the first time he performed the procedure for real. Gabriel conducted CPR on Long through 30 chest compressions and then two rescue breaths per cycle. Every now and then, the AED instructed Gabriel to stop touching Long so that it could deliver electric jolts of 150 to 200 volts to Long’s heart.
“The AED’s voice-prompt kept telling me to ‘push harder’. The victim was bigger than me and I used all my strength,” said Gabriel. “The device gave him three shocks and when the ambulance came, he was given another shock with the ambulance’s defibrillator. Only after that did his heart beat again,” he added.
As Gabriel performed cycle after cycle of CPR on Long, the AED showed that Gabriel’s compressions were getting weaker and weaker. Gabriel said that he was so focused on saving Long’s life, he almost forgot that because CPR is such a tiring procedure, you need to take turns doing it. Now, he definitely will never that forget again.
Prior to the incident, Long didn’t even know his heart was at risk. “I want everyone around my age to go for a check-up, even if you think nothing is wrong,” advised Long. He definitely has a point there.
Long was warded for almost two weeks after the incident. He’s now recuperating back at home and is reportedly very grateful to the boys’ courageous act. He said “The five boys are heroes. I think other people would have panicked but the boys were well-trained.”
He’s right. They are heroes.