SECOND CHANCE: Kevin Creek with his saviours Tammy Vandommele and Kate Chapman.
SECOND CHANCE: Kevin Creek with his saviours Tammy Vandommele and Kate Chapman. Kristen Booth

Kevin owes his life to paramedic's new skill

IF IT wasn't for the quick thinking of Tammy Vandommele and Kate Chapman, Kevin Creek would be dead.

The 74-year-old had a major heart attack when he was home alone on his property about an hour-and-a-half west of Springsure.

Mr Creek suffers from a type of rheumatoid arthritis, and when pain persisted down his arms and chest, he thought "geez, that's not my arthritis” and called for help.

Mrs Vandolmmele, a Springsure paramedic, arrived with her volunteer driver Mrs Chapman and quickly snapped into action.

Mrs Vandommele recently received the necessary training to deal with the situation. Thrombolysis is a treatment - now mandatory for all regional advanced care paramedics - that uses medications to break up and dissolve blood clots that are blocking veins or arteries.

"When you have a heart attack you get a clot and that blocks the flow of blood to the heart,” Mrs Vandommele said.

"We've upskilled and we've been given the medication, the drugs to basically blow the clot and that helps the blood flow to go through again.”

After gaining approval to carry out the procedure, Mrs Vandommele said she "came back (to the patient) and thrombolysed, we blew that clot apart”.

"While that clot is there, your heart isn't getting the oxygen it needs,” she said.

"If the heart doesn't get oxygen then it will die off and that's why it is so important to get that blood flowing again so quickly and blast that clot.

"As drastic as it sounds, if we didn't have that (thrombolysis), Kevin would be dead.”

It was the first time Mrs Vandommele has needed to put the procedure into practice "and hopefully the last”.

"I've delivered babies and I was still more nervous about this job, I think because it is such a new skill for us,” she said.

"I didn't want to do it by myself, so thankfully Kate was there for me.”

Outcome of a long life battle

THE Creek family's life-long medical fight has had a tangible benefit, saving the life of Kevin Creek.

In 1955, Norman Creek (Kevin's older brother) was born with a heart problem.

Norman had an abnormally shaped heart, a hole in the heart as big as a 20 cent coin - the largest found in Australia at the time - his veins to the heart were hooked up the wrong way. He was selected as one of the heart research subjects for Australia at the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne.

In 1961, Norman's first operation was a break-through in Australian medicine, when blood started to flow through the tubes between his heart and lungs, leaving doctors clapping and cheering with glee.

The Creek family became the number one family in heart research with the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

Following his major heart attack, Kevin Creek was transferred to the Sunshine Coast, where he received multitudes of gratitude for his families contribution.

"There were people everywhere who know who you are and what you've done - it just goes from mouth to mouth,” he said.

"People really appreciate what was done.”

Paramedic Tammy Vandommele helped save Kevin's life and said she believes what goes around comes around.

"With all the heart research, and all your family contributing to the heart research, its made hospitals up-skill, its made paramedics up-skill, so it has all contributed and come back round,” she said.

Mr Creek is has now fully recovered from what should have been fatal and is back home on his Central Highland property, Runaway.

Although doctors are not certain on what brought the heart attack on, Mr Creek said he is "feeling really good actually”.


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