Merrigum trainee paramedic John Dozzi lucky to defy the odds

By Liz Mellino

John Dozzi is one of a small percentage of people who survive sudden cardiac arrest.

The Merrigum trainee paramedic knows he is extremely lucky to be alive after suffering a major heart attack four years ago.

With only one in 10 people currently surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, Mr Dozzi knows he defied the odds.

His own training enabled him to begin treatment on himself before Ambulance Victoria paramedics arrived, which was the difference for him between life and death.

‘‘It was a complete shock, straight out of the blue I had a massive cardiac arrest in the middle of the night,’’ he said.

‘‘I was gone, I had gone and they managed to bring me back to life by using the defibrillator on me.’’

Mr Dozzi was a carer to his mother at the time when he woke one morning about 3.30am to hear her getting out of bed.

Because he was awake he decided to get up, too, which was when he remembered suddenly feeling a wave of nausea come over his body.

‘‘I got nauseous for about 10 seconds and then it went away and I thought ‘I teach this, something is just not right’,’’ he said.

‘‘I went to the top of the list of things it could be and I treated myself with aspirin which thins the blood down, so that gave me a couple of extra minutes.’’

Mr Dozzi quickly phoned 000 and explained how he was feeling and the treatment he had already prescribed.

The last he remembered was being rushed to hospital in Ballarat and waking the next morning to be told his heart had to be restarted to bring him back to life.

‘‘I remember I got really cold at one stage,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought that was when they opened the ambulance doors to go through to hospital, but apparently it was when they were working on me I got very cold.’’

The heart attack survivor now has a trial internal defibrillator installed in his chest, one of only 400 people in the world to have a device of the kind.

Despite his heart now operating with only 34percent of its full usage, this four-lead pacemaker has managed to keep his heart beating since the attack.

‘‘I am a survivor, it is so frightening, but it really is a life changer,’’ he said.

‘‘If I hadn’t of done anything I would have been in bed and Mum would have gotten up and said ‘John is still in bed, I will let him sleep’ ... I could have been there for a day dead, no-one would have known.’’

Mr Dozzi is now a strong advocate for the Heart Foundation and the work it does to bring awareness to sudden onset cardiac arrest.

He stressed the importance of knowing how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how important it was to provide immediate action to a patient.

‘‘As long as you can keep that blood flowing there is enough oxygen in the blood, if you’re doing CPR those couple of minutes make a major difference,’’ he said.

‘‘The major difference for me was knowing there was something wrong. Even though I didn’t have all the symptoms I knew there was something wrong. I treated for the worst and I was right and here I am today.’’