Miracle revival of young PE cyclist by ‘guardian angels’
A NURSE taking her car for a check-up and a paramedic on his way home were in exactly the right place, at the right time, to save the life of a young Port Elizabeth cyclist who collapsed while riding in peak-hour traffic.
Drikus Strydom, 24, owes his life to the quick thinking of the two trained medics who, in a strange quirk of fate, just happened to be in the vicinity when he collapsed and fell off his bicycle on the busy William Moffett Expressway on Thursday.
The young plumber who lives in Fairview was already clinically dead – he was not breathing and they could not find a pulse – when they miraculously revived him.
“I really believe they were my child’s guardian angels. God placed them there when he needed them most,” Strydom’s mother, Rika Els, said.
Strydom, who is recovering in St George’s Hospital where he is due to undergo tests to establish what caused his sudden collapse, said they had saved his life.
Paramedic Gerard Howard, 42, and trauma nurse Jenilee Plaatjies, 27, told yesterday of their frantic efforts to resuscitate Strydom, even though everything they knew about medicine told them he was dead.
Strydom – whose car was in for a service – was on his way home on his bicycle just before 5pm on Thursday when he collapsed.
Howard, the regional head of Netcare 911 and a trained paramedic with more than 20 years’ experience, was also on his way home when he was flagged down by a motorist.
“I was in my response vehicle when he stopped me and showed me what looked like a man who had fallen off his bike,” Howard said. “I first thought it was a hit-and-run.” Meanwhile, Plaatjies, a trauma nurse at Netcare Greenacres’ Accident and Emergency Unit, saw Strydom falling off his bicycle as she was leaving Williams Hunt.
“A few minutes before that, I had seen a light come on on my car’s dashboard and I drove to Williams Hunt to have it checked,” she said.
“I was just getting into my car to leave when we saw the man fall.
“Everyone thought it was a hit-andrun accident. Then we saw Gerard stop.
“I just ran to help him. I had to cross the whole William Moffett to get to him. Nobody even stopped for me.
“Something just told me to run to him.”
Howard had just collected his equipment from his vehicle when she arrived. “I put the safety cones out to get people to slow down, but they drove so fast and someone actually broke one cone,” he said.
“Only the man who flagged me down actually stopped. Nobody else even tried to see if they could help us.
“We assessed the patient. He was clinically dead. His skin was ice cold.
“We could not find a pulse. He wasn’t breathing.” Howard and Plaatjies started CPR. Howard had just attended a CPR course earlier in the day.
“Luckily, I was in my response vehicle and we had a defibrillator. We had to shock him three times,” Howard said.
Plaatjies said: “The two of us got him back.
“I saw his skin becoming pink again and I shouted to Gerard, ‘ We have some colour here’.”
The pair continued working on Strydom for about 10 minutes until other Netcare 911 medics arrived and then kept up CPR until he was stabilised.
“We were so out of breath,” Plaatjies said.
“CPR is a very physical job. I was kneeling on the tar and my knees started hurting.
“I took my handbag and put it under my knees.”
Strydom was still unconscious when he was taken to the Greenacres Hospital’s casualty unit. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Monique de Waal, had phoned his mother to say that Strydom had gone missing.
Els, who lives in Kimberley, said it was the phone call that every mother dreaded getting.
“Eventually, we started phoning the hospitals and that was when we found him,” she said.
On Monday, Howard walked into the coronary care unit at Greenacres Hospital to check up on Strydom.
“I saw him eating his porridge and I thought, ‘All is well. This is what we want. We saved this one’,” he said.
“He was so grateful. He is a very fortunate guy. He is truly lucky to be alive.” Plaatjies, who was on duty at the weekend, had a little scare when she went to look for Strydom in the ICU.
“I saw his bed was empty and I had such a fright,” she said.
“Then I heard they had moved him to the coronary care unit.
“I went there and saw him with his family.
“I became so emotional that I couldn’t even talk. I just walked in and said hi,” she said.
Els, who flew to Port Elizabeth to be with her son, said she was incredibly grateful to Howard and Plaatjies for saving his life.
“I have no words to describe how grateful I am,” she said.
“God’s mercy and protection were great that day.”