Shock through the airwaves as local radio producer has cardiac arrest

Locals are being urged to know CPR this 'Shocktober'. Photo: Contributed

GIPPSLAND radio veteran Kym Williams is familiar with broadcasting the news.

But a year ago, the 75-year-old became the news when he suddenly went into cardiac arrest while working at the Bairnsdale Community Radio Station.

The Sarsfield local, who has broadcast local news, football and music programs for 26 years and has also served as the station’s secretary, said he had no warning signs on the morning of September 2 as he arrived at the station for another day of regular programming.

“The station quite often only has one person in the building, but fortunately for me, on that day there were plenty of people around,” Kym said.

“Apparently, I walked past one of the guys and said ‘g’day’ and went into the studio.”

The colleague he passed was Damian Pratt, who had recently renewed his cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training through his involvement with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard.

“I was in the office late that afternoon when I heard an unusual noise from the production studio,” Damian said.

“Kym had collapsed in a chair. I asked other staff to call an ambulance while I started CPR.

“I don’t recall much about it, other than another member at the station (Peter), who was also trained in CPR, took over until paramedics arrived.

“It was a team effort – from the first responders to the paramedics being able to administer higher level medical care that saved Kym’s life.

“I never envisioned being called upon to use that vital skill.”

Ambulance Victoria (AV) Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) paramedic Phil Clark responded to Kym’s case, and said when paramedics arrived, Damian and Peter were performing excellent CPR.

“It kept the blood flow going to Kym’s heart and that explains why his heart responded so quickly after we gave him the life-saving drugs,” Phil said.

Kym said while he had no recollection of his emergency, he understood the ordeal had been traumatic for his family and colleagues.

“I’ve been told by every doctor and report that has been written about me that the reason I’m still here is that initial CPR,” he said.

“I was very lucky. I know when I was put into the helicopter Damian and Peter were told that it was unlikely I’d make it.”

AV Air Ambulance MICA flight paramedics flew Kym to Monash Hospital in a critical condition, where he had a defibrillator inserted into his heart after a lengthy recovery.

Kym admits while he has slowed down since his cardiac arrest, his life is relatively back to normal.

Remarkably, just three months after his cardiac arrest local listeners heard his voice on the air again as he resumed his weekly radio program.

“I often think how incredible it is that I had people close-by who knew what they were doing when that happened to me,” Kym said.

“I want to say thank you to Damian, Peter and the paramedics. They’re incredible. I wouldn’t have survived without them.”

A year after his cardiac arrest, Kym reunited with his bystanders and paramedics as part of ‘Shocktober’ – Ambulance Victoria’s nationally recognised campaign which aims to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.

Every day, around 20 Victorians suffer the medical emergency, but only one in 10 survive.

AV Medical Director Associate Professor David Anderson said it is essential to know CPR, how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and where your closest defibrillator is located.

“Shocktober is about giving more Victorians who suffer a cardiac arrest a better chance of returning to their loved ones,” he said.

“CPR and defibrillation are critical. For every minute CPR is delayed, survival decreases by 10 per cent.

“Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, at any age, health or fitness level, and often without symptoms.”

For information about Shocktober, the GoodSAM app and how to learn CPR and use an AED (defib), visit