Humpty Doo volunteer firie saves life!

31 July 2014
For one NT Volunteer Firefighter, attending the Australasian Rescue Challenge in Victoria was far more than a competitive training exercise.
Danny O'Dempsey and Liam Wilson
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Before Danny O’Dempsey had even left the airport, he undoubtedly saved a man’s life.

For most people, the sound of an alarm in the background might cause for a head turn, but these NT Firefighters are more than familiar with the sound of a defibrillator alarm.

When interviewed for this story, Danny O’Dempsey, a volunteer at Humpty Doo Fire Station and qualified paramedic said, “when you hear that very distinctive alarm, it either means someone’s attempting to steal thousands of dollars of kit, or someone is in serious need of assistance”.

After a man had collapsed, the Airport security had got the defibrillator which had triggered the alarm.

Armed with his full paramedic response kit, fresh off the airport conveyor belt, Danny got to work on the unconscious man until a local ambulance arrived approximately 10 minutes later.

 “He had been in cardiac arrest, unconscious, not breathing, no pulse and bystander CPR had been performed.

“I had airway support equipment and an IV access as part of my kit for the Australasian Rescue Challenge. I don’t generally travel with my paramedic gear.

“Before he was put in the ambulance, he was regaining consciousness.” Mr O’Dempsey said.

“If I hadn’t had my full kit on me, I could have still rendered assistance until the Ambulance arrived but having the correct kit certainly would have improved the man’s chances of quality of life upon release from hospital. It also allowed the arriving ambulance to be presented with a full set of clinical observations and immediate iv access.”

A crowd gathered around the man, including his distressed wife. When asked if Danny had heard from the man since he simply answered, “oh no. I did my job. And that includes remaining calm. The best paramedics are the ones who help in distressing situations but you don’t otherwise need to know we are there.”

Chief Fire Officer Steve Rothwell, being on site at the time, said Danny was being quite modest in his account.

“His presence, his qualifications, his attention, his calm disposition and his kit clearly saved this man’s life.

“The chance of pre-hospital survival from cardiac arrest is less than 1%, and that doesn’t mean full neurological recovery. Essentially, the man was already dead when Danny and airport security revived him. It is unlikely the man could have survived until the ambulance arrived without assistance.

“This was a very commendable response and we are very proud and fortunate to have the qualified skills of Mr O’Dempsey on our volunteer brigade.” Mr Rothwell said.

And so it was, after saving this man’s life, Danny simply joined the rest of his team, departed the airport and took part in the Australasian Rescue Challenge held over the 25th to the 27th July at Lardner Park, Warragul, Victoria.

Out of the 20 teams (representing 4 countries) made up of 120 rescuers, Danny, with his partner Liam Wilson, an Auxiliary Firefighter from Tennant Creek scored a 3rd place in one of the newer events: the Trauma Challenge.

The Trauma Challenge was introduced to the competition in 2013 and this year was the first time NTFRS had a team for this particular challenge. It was also the first time Danny and Liam ever worked together in partnership so to take out the 3rd place while competing with teams who practice and work together regularly was further kudos for the NTFRS!

The Trauma Challenge was made up of 2 scenarios, both realistic for Firefighters in the Northern Territory. The first involved a patient who had fallen from height and was impaled through the leg. The second was a patient who had been thrown from a horse who was suffering from a tension pneumothorax. The team were handed their kit bag to respond to these scenarios, their ‘patient’ being a student paramedic who could respond positively or negatively to the ‘treatment’ they were receiving.

Danny is hoping to train and take out first place in the Trauma Challenge on home turf at the 2015 event in Alice Springs.


The Australasian Rescue Challenge (ARC) 2015 will be hosted in the Northern Territory, Alice Springs, for the first time. 

The event will be staged over the 24 to 26 July and open to the public to watch.

Aptly titled – ‘Outback Rescue,’ our ARC will focus on community education whilst highlighting the challenges of road response in remote locations.

The Australasian Rescue Challenge brings together rescuers from SES, fire and rescue and mines rescue organisations.  Teams respond to scenarios reflecting real life and using best practices that are safe, effective and efficient, therefore maximising survival and recovery rates.

Watch this space for more information on the 2015 Outback Rescue in Alice Springs