‘You’re all lifesavers’
TEARS were streaming down nine-year-old Ashlee McAuliffe’s face when paramedics arrived in the driveway of her Gold Coast home on February 7 this year.
“It’s my dad,” she told them between sobs.
On Tuesday, those tears were replaced by a beaming smile as Ashlee was reunited with the ambulance officers she helped save her father Brendan’s life after he was found at the bottom of the family’s backyard pool.
Ashlee, her sister Ella, 12, and their mum Olivia sprang into action after Mr McAuliffe collapsed in the pool at their Ormeau home after a three-hour pushbike ride.
The fit cycle shop owner, 44, said working long hours had taken a toll on his health and, with the hot weather, probably caused his blackout. “Ashlee and Olivia came out and saw that I was on the bottom of the pool,” he said. “All I remember is going for a swim and then waking up in hospital.”
Ashlee recalled: “I said, ‘he hasn’t come up for a while’ and Mum just got in the pool and got him up.”
As Olivia held her husband up and started CPR,
Ashlee ran next door to get help and Ella rang triple-0, calmly relaying instructions from the dispatcher.
Mrs McAuliffe, a pastry chef who had just done a CPR refresher course, cracked seven of her husband’s ribs as she worked to save him until police and paramedics arrived. “It was clear in my mind what to do,” she said. “I’d done CPR in high school and you just never know when you’re going to need it.
“It was probably 15 minutes, but it felt like we were working on him forever.”
The Queensland Ambulance service dispatcher, who wants to be known only as Christine, said Ella and Ashlee were “little heroes”.
First-responder paramedic Stuart Goldston said it was heartwarming to be reunited with the family. “Ashlee had tears running down her face when she met me in the driveway that day – it broke me up,” he said. “To come here and see her smiling with her dad is just awesome.”
Mr McAuliffe said: “I’m just super-proud of my wife and daughters.”