TONY Frost knows he's lucky to be alive.
The 67-year-old Old Bar Road resident was running in a group on February 1 this year when he had a heart attack near Old Bar Tennis Club. Tony's a keen runner - he completed 10 half marathons last year and was a regular in the weekly 5km Taree parkrun.
"I was as fit as,'' he said.
"I was running about 150 to 200km a month.''
He's part of a group that meets twice a week for an early 5km jog in and around Old Bar. Jo Burge, Pauly Maclean, Christy Burke, Natalie Roese and Arna McDermott were with Tony when he collapsed. They immediately began working on him, while also calling for an ambulance.
Jake Cook lives across the road and teaches with Christy.
"He heard the commotion and came over to see if he could help,'' Tony explained.
I remember waking up in the ambulance. That's all.- Tony Frost
"And how is this for a coincidence? Christy and Jake are school teachers and had done a CPR refresher course at school the previous Friday. So Christy started the mouth-to-mouth and Jake the CPR.
"They knew exactly what to do from their training.''
Taree Old Bar Surf Club member Andy Snelgar also lives nearby. He raced over, quickly summed up the urgency of the situation and made a beeline to the surf club to grab a defibrillator and oxygen.
"It was 6am and I only just found out the other day that the surf club isn't usually open at that time of day,'' Tony added.
The drama lasted about 16 minutes before the ambulance arrived.
Tony had a heart attack 14 years ago but had been in excellent health.
"I remember waking up in the ambulance,'' he said.
He was at Manning Base Hospital for a short time before a bed became available at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. A week after the heart attack he underwent bypass surgery and a week after that he had a pacemaker and defibrillator inserted. He had a stent put in following the previous heart attack
The emergency has led to the formation of a committee at Old Bar that is now part of the Community Defib Project. The committee has so far raised $9500 towards a total of $12,000 to have fully operational defibs available in Old Bar that can be easily accessed by the general public.
The idea is that if a defib is required in Old Bar, there'll be one available no more than five minutes away- Heart attack survivor Tony Frost
"The project's Australia-wide, but the funds we raise are for our community,'' Tony explained.
"The defibs will have a permanent stand and the ongoing maintenance will be funded by our group.
"The idea is that if a defib is required in Old Bar, there'll be one available no more than five minutes away.''
Michael Cameron from Lauder's Real Estate is the committee's team leader. He's also in the surf club.
Tony and fellow runners Jo, Pauly, Natalie and Arna are also on board as is Steve Doessel.
Steve Collings from Old Bar has been an enthusiastic supporter and approached business houses in the town to help bolster the figure to the current figure of $9500.
A fund raising and training day will be held at a date to be determined at the surf club and Tony has no doubt the $12,000 goal will be attained.
"The defib people will bring all their gear to show how the defibs work. We hope to have a few up and running around the town before then,'' Tony explained.
Meanwhile, Tony is continuing his rehab, mainly walking with the eventual aim of returning to a full running program, although he's heeding doctor's orders.
"The surgeon told me I have to get some blood flowing through my new arteries,'' he said.
"I mightn't ever do a half marathon again, but I'll be back running and I'm aiming for the five month anniversary (after the heart attack).
"You have to enjoy life while you can.''
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