As emergency workers, we often feel like we are untouchable, bulletproof even. We don’t get sick, we don’t get hurt, and we don’t suffer heart attacks. However, this was not the case for André Momberg, the ER24 Secunda Branch Manager.
The 15th of June was just like any other day, André had decided to join a few of his friends and colleagues for dinner after a long day of training. Although not feeling too well, he had been persuaded to join the outing.
“I had a bit of chest pain earlier in the week but thought nothing of it. It had been a hard day of training, so I thought I was just tired. I remember climbing out of my bakkie, and that was it. I don’t remember the chest pain. I just collapsed,” said André.
André had experienced a heart attack.
Madreline Meintjes, an Intermediate Life Support Medic from ER24, had been at a nearby filling station when she received the emergency call. “It was about 16h00 when my phone rang. It was one of André’s friends saying that he had collapsed. “I remember thinking that I spoke to André two hours ago, surely nothing could be wrong?”
It took Madreline less than a minute to respond to the incident.
When Madreline and her crew member Nosipho Dlamini arrived on the scene, they found André leaning up against a bakkie looking very pale. Madreline opened the door of the ambulance to retrieve her medical equipment when André collapsed to the ground.
Rushing to his aid, she assessed him and found that he had suffered a heart attack. Fortunately, André still had a weak pulse and was gasping for air. “My only thought was to keep him alive,” said Madreline.
While being assessed, Andre’s vital signs rapidly diminished. Nico Stapelberg, a friend of André’s and also an off-duty medic, immediately assisted Madreline with CPR, ventilations and defibrillations. André was loaded into the ambulance and rushed to Mediclinic Highveld. “Although it took us only about 3 minutes and 46 seconds to get to hospital, it felt very long,” Madreline said.
The hospital staff stabilised André before the ER24 Oneplan Medical Helicopter airlifted him to Mediclinic Midstream for further advanced care.
Madreline made the long drive from Secunda to Mediclinic Midstream in Centurion, her mind racing. “It hit me the entire trip, of what happened. All I could think of is what is going to happen to Andre’, is he going to make it.”
Andre was stabilised and treated by the staff at Mediclinic Midstream. After some recovery time, André said: “I must thank the amazing staff that looked after me, their care was phenomenal, especially Dr Lester from the Cardiac Unit.”
Madreline was later told by one of the doctors that, if it had not been for ER24’s quick intervention and CPR, André would not have made it.
We would like to thank Madreline Meintjes, Nosipho Dlamini and Nico Stapelberg, and all involved, for their amazing hard work and dedication.