A STORM was approaching the Martins’ home, but there was no rain.
Leonie Martin was watching the weather from inside the Marble Hill Road house as husband Wayne tended to sheep outside
As she turned from the window, she heard a loud clap of thunder.
“It seemed like the lightning was right on top of us,” Mrs Martin said.
“I went outside and saw what I thought was dust flying up, and Wayne lying face down.”
Wayne, known to many as ‘Dimmo’, had been struck by lightning in his backyard that December afternoon last year.
On Sunday, Mr Martin and his family met with and thanked the ambulance paramedics for their part in saving his life, and heard their assessment of what transpired some eight weeks prior.
Mrs Martin had phoned Triple Zero and the ambulance operator talked her through cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
“I had learnt it when I was young, but had not had to do it before,” she said. “All I could think was, I wanted Wayne back.”
The first ambulance, with paramedics Jock Cartwright and Lisa Almond from Goulburn, arrived at 5.44pm.
“As we approached the house, we could see the patient’s wife was performing what looked like effective CPR,” Mr Cartwright told the gathering at Goulburn Ambulance Station on February 10.
“She had been doing it for 10 to 15 minutes, which is exhausting.”
Crookwell paramedics, Scott Joiner and Jessica Churchill, arrived within three minutes of the Goulburn crew.
Their rapid first assessment was that Mr Martin was an asystolic patient in cardiac arrest (with no electrical activity in the heart, or flat-lining). They started cardiac arrest protocols.
After about eight minutes of CPR and ventilation, Mr Martin’s pulse returned.
With a fierce electrical storm looming, the medics loaded him into an ambulance to urgently transport him to Goulburn Base Hospital.
In the meantime, a helicopter had been dispatched from the ACT, but had to land at Goulburn Airport because of storm activity, from where the crew was transported by road to the hospital.
Mr Cartwright said that, had it not been for Mrs Martin’s quick, selfless action and prolonged performance of CPR before more help arrived, the outcome may well have been very different.
“For her to have maintained the CPR for 10 to 15 minutes, while putting herself at risk from the storm, is a superhuman effort,” Mr Cartwright said. “She is a real lifesaver.”
On waking from a coma in the Canberra Hospital, Mr Martin found it impossible when he first tried to walk.
He is now at home and walking fairly well, but has very little strength and difficulty lifting even a carton of milk.
He still suffers from pain in the upper body, which is sometimes almost unbearable, but says he hopes it will reduce with time and his strength will return.
He still has virtually no memory of the events of the day when he was hit by the lightning.
“Everything I do now is a bonus,” Mr Martin said.
“I am so lucky and grateful for everyone who was part of the effort that day.
“I am also grateful to the medical staff and everyone who sent us messages of support.
“I have a small patch on my chest that has not healed up. The lightning melted my shirt, shredded my pants where my mobile phone exploded, and my shoe was ripped, but Leonie and the paramedics were just amazing.”