Student Paige Hurley was enjoying her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia.
Paige Hurley the Survivor
The seemingly healthy 22-year-old was working as a waitress to help fund her travels around the stunning country.
Paige, who is a third year student at Leeds University, was about an hour into her shift when disaster struck. The theatre and performance student suddenly collapsed in front of horrified customers.
Stunned diners could be seen on CCTV footage wondering what to do to help her. At first they thought she may have just tripped over but then the harsh reality of the situation dawned on them.
Paige was unconscious and her heart had stopped beating. It had gone into cardiac arrest.
Thankfully there was a doctor in the restaurant who knew exactly what to do to save her life. He showed Paige’s boss how to administer CPR and he started chest compressions to help massage her heart.
There was a lifesaving defibrillator located upstairs in the shopping centre where the restaurant was located. By following the electronic device’s simple steps the quick-thinking volunteers helped to restart Paige’s heart.
Paige, now 24, said: “If it hadn’t been for the doctor and the nearby defibrillator then I might have died.
“I was just so lucky that there were people there at the time who were able to take over and offer assistance to me.
“It just makes you realise that there is a lot of kindness in strangers.
“And the only reason that they knew where the defibrillator was is because there was a guy there who went to the gym upstairs.
“I will always be thankful for the defibrillator that was next door that started my heart again.”
Paige was diagnosed with a heart condition called Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia or CPVT. The condition is connected to the rhythm of the heart and tends to show itself if the heart speeds up.
Paige now has a defibrillator fitted to her heart to help make sure that her heart maintains a regular rhythm.
And the defibrillator helped to save her life for a second time after she collapsed on stage during a production at Leeds University.
The performance student didn’t realise that exercise and stage nerves could impact on her condition.
She said: “I was giving it welly and my heart sped up to nearly 180 beats per minute.
“The defibrillator kicked in and restarted my heart before it got serious.
“One of the girls helped me up. I just looked around and carried on.”
Following the incident last year all of Paige’s co-workers decided to learn lifesaving first aid.
Her old restaurant even gave her a copy of the CCTV footage that captured the incident before she left.
She said: “It was just strange to see. I was extremely lucky.
“I think because of what happened all the people I was working with all started to decide to be fully trained in first aid. I was then able to give a little bit of awareness and realised that you need to know the basics of first aid.
“I think that it is a responsibility that we all should take seriously. Once you learn the basics it is not that hard. You shouldn’t be scared of doing first aid and a lot of people have said they would be terrified to use a defibrillator.
“There’s is nothing to be terrified about because you could be helping to save someone’s life. We should all try to help each other.
“One day if it happened to you then you will expect that same kind of treatment from strangers just like I did.
“It is just so important to know what to do.”
Paige now looks for defibrillators around Leeds wherever she goes.
She also hopes that the lifesaving electronic devices will be fitted in schools across the country.
She said: “I know how important it is to know exactly where they are.
“If you are going to have one then everyone needs to know about it.”