Lakes Entrance footballer, Virgil Puruntatameri, lived to fight another day following a heart attack scare during the Seagulls’ round one East Gippsland football clash against Stratford on Saturday, and he has the swift action of club officials and the defibrillator to thank for saving his life.
Puruntatameri collapsed on the interchange bench under cardiac arrest moments before the final siren at Stratford, prompting Lakes Entrance trainer, Dave Richardson, who is president of Lakes Entrance Surf Lifesaving Club, and a group of Stratford trainers to begin CPR.
Puruntatameri was believed to be going in and out of cardiac arrest as the defibrillator was used in an attempt to restart his heart.
Off-duty nurses, followed by paramedics and a MICA paramedic were quickly on the scene before Puruntatameri was rushed to Latrobe Regional Hospital and flown to a Melbourne hospital.
At 11pm, Puruntatameri underwent open-heart surgery lasting four hours, before being put in an induced coma.
At around noon Sunday, Puruntatameri woke and remains in recovery.
Lakes Entrance Football Netball Club president, Kevin Giblin, praised the work of club trainers, saying Puruntatameri is “probably the luckiest man alive”.
“It was a perfect storm. The stars aligned and we had the right people in the right place at the right time,” Mr Giblin said.
“Had it happened half an hour later in the back of a car between Stratford and Bairnsdale, he would be dead.
“The timing, in a sense, was perfect. Had it been at any other time, an it could have the end.”
Mr Giblin said Puruntatameri, who was discovered to have a massive blood clot, was a “ticking time bomb”. He fell face first while on the bench before Richardson began CPR with support from the Stratford trainers following soon after, including use of the defibrillator. They were able to get Puruntatameri breathing before he again fell into arrest.
“He was lying on his side, saying a few words. We are forever indebted to the Stratford Football Netball Club,” Mr Giblin said.
“Had they not had a defibrillator there and charged and had their trainers not stepped in to help so quickly, if could have been a different outcome.”
Once paramedics arrived they quickly found Puruntatameri was still in cardiac arrest, calling in a Melbourne helicopter to pick the fallen footballer up from Latrobe Regional Hospital.
“I have no doubt he wouldn’t be alive if all those people, the trainers, off duty nurses, paramedics, hadn’t worked so quickly,” Mr Giblin said.
Mr Giblin said Puruntatameri will remain in care for up to 10 days, while the Northern Territory Government has flown his mother, father and sister to Victoria to be by his side in recovery.
Lakes Entrance Fooball Netball Club is offering counselling for any people affected by the traumatic event at tomorrow night’s regular training session.