Workmates credited with saving man from certain death
BRUCE O'Grady does not remember the morning of January 25, 2016.
The 60-year-old was working in the yard of Maxcon Industries at Wulkuraka, doing a job he had been working at for 11 years.
At 11.30 am, the morning was normal. The site had been through a safety drill earlier that day. Bruce's job that morning was to drive the forklift.
After more than a decade, Bruce knew his work as a yard person and had been working with the same blokes long enough to earn the nickname Bruiser.
At 11.30am, everything was fine.
At 11.52am, Bruce was dying.
In circumstances still being investigated, he became pinned between the cab and the mast of a forklift, stuck between strong metal in a space too small for the human body.
For a minute, nobody knew. Bruce had been working alone.
His torso was crushed. He lost consciousness. He stopped breathing. His heart went into a rhythm incapable of supporting life. He was, by many classifications, dead.
In any other circumstance, Bruce could still be dead. All the paramedics who treated him agree. His injuries were extreme, traumatic and incredibly hard to survive.
But the remarkable events in the minutes after he died gave Bruce O'Grady a chance at coming back.
The men who saved him
Trent Court is a relaxed man with short blonde hair and a larrikin tilt to his voice. On the morning of January 25, he was yard manager.
He was also a workplace health and safety advisor for Maxcon Industries, his employer of 10 years.
Trent and three other colleagues - Chris Aiken, Scott Blackwell and Dale Ward - were the first people to discover the injured Bruce.
In a 000 call made in the minutes after Bruce began to die, all four men can be heard working like mad to save his life.
In the first 10 seconds, Trent yells for a defibrillator and describes the accident to emergency medical dispatcher Franics 'Frankie' Gueco.
"So definitely the patient is not breathing?" Frankie says.
"Yeah mate, he's going blue," Trent replies.
Frankie dispatches two ambulances to the site and the four men make the crucial decision to release Bruce from the space that is killing him.
"Get ready to catch him," somebody yells.
Frankie tries to instruct Trent in performing CPR, but Trent's safety training has kicked in and he is already compressing Bruce's chest.
"27, 28, 29, 30. C'mon Bruiser," Trent says.
The four men work in tandem - waiting for the ambulance, attaching defibrillator pads to Bruce's, chest, giving him breaths, pulling his head back, taking turns on the phone.
Bruce receives a couple of shocks and Trent, the man in charge, pauses to vomit before he gets back on the phone with Frankie.
Their work lasted less than 10 minutes. It meant that by the time the first of four ambulances arrived, Bruce had a pulse.
The emergency services response
Advanced care paramedic Chris Lloyd describes Bruce's injuries as probably the worst you can survive.
Chris and fellow paramedic Amanda Walsh were the first on the scene at Maxcon Industries.
They were quickly followed by critical care paramedic Wayne Kirk, another advanced care crew, and a high acuity retrieval unit trained to do procedures in the field.
The work required to keep Bruce stable on his journey to the Princess Alexandra Hospital was extreme.
The then 59-year-old was intubated and received thoracic surgery on the side of the road to relieve the pressure in his damaged lungs.
Chris and his colleagues said the actions and safety training at Maxcon Industries made the difference between life and death.
"The hard work was done before we got here," Chris said.
"The defibrillation has shocked him back into something that was a little bit salvageable," Wayne said.
"He was borderline when we got here. But eventually he started to improve enough for us to do our interventions.
"By the time we got to the PA, he was still unconscious and unresponsive.
"So he had a long way to go."
Amanda said every paramedic who treated Bruce agreed on one thing. Without the actions of his colleagues, he would be dead.
"It's definitely their quick thinking that kept him alive," she said.
A long slow recovery
Bruce speaks directly and without sentiment about the 15 minutes that almost killed him.
He spent several weeks in the PA as a surgical patient. On top of the heart attack he suffered during the accident, he had more heart attacks in hospital, caused by a blood clot that traveled through his lungs.
On February 4 he was transferred to Ipswich Hospital's rehabilitation ward, where he remained until April 12.
He celebrated his 60th birthday in the ward's courtyard surrounded by 40 family members and friends.
"I got crushed. I've had 250mm of bowel taken out. Two vertebrae were damaged and all the nerves were crushed.
"The leg doesn't work properly, but it will eventually, maybe. Hopefully.
"From now on, there's no looking back. I'm doing great."
On Thursday, Bruce returned to Maxcon Industries for the first time since his accident as the guest of honour at the site's monthly safety barbecue.
He was joined by the team of Queensland Ambulance staff that responded to the incident.
QAS West Moreton chief superintendent Drew Hebbron gave both Maxcon Industries and the four men who performed CPR on Bruce certificates of appreciation.
"It's one of those cases where everything, apart from the incident itself, went right," Drew said.
"That you're back here at work today is a real testament to our officers but also to your workplace and your workmates."
Aquatec Maxcon general manager Greg Johnston said the business had purchased extra defibrillators and put them on all sites following the accident on January 25.
He said the company was working hard with Bruce to help him recover and return to work.
Bruce is adamant he will return to work when he can. The four guys who found him were able to visit him about a week after the accident, and were among a crowd of workers Bruce reunited with on Thursday.
"Without them I'd be dead. Simple as that. There's nothing else you can say, I'd be dead," he said.