Shaking the hand of a hero

Peter Dawson and Jason Lau meet a month after Jason saved Peter's life.
Peter Dawson and Jason Lau meet a month after Jason saved Peter's life.

Tears flowed onto Lorraine Dawson's cheeks as she sent a photo to her children this week of her husband and the man who saved his life.

The photo shows beaming 76 year old Peter - who suffered a severe cardiac arrest while playing squash at the Cowra Services Club on May 7 and Jason Lau, the man who performed compressions on him until paramedics arrived.

Peter was hospitalised for 12 days after "being gone" for 22 minutes.

Wife Lorraine says she, Peter and their family are forever grateful to Jason for working on Peter until emergency services arrived.

"When Peter was in hospital he said I just want to shake Jason's hand, and Terry (our eldest) said 'me too'. And I am sure he will," Lorraine said.

"He [Peter] used to say I would rather die trying then never know...well he has lived up to that."

Peter doesn't remember anything from the night, or in the days that followed, but has heard stories about what happened from those who were there.

"Whenever the night has been brought up, Jason's name has been brought up as the one who worked on me until the ambulance arrived," he said.

"Everyone has told me that he was there and saved my life."

The pair met again for the first time this week, one month, countless hospital visits and an operation later.

Tears welled up in Peter's eyes and pooled on his face, yet he wore the happiest of smiles.

"Every time I look at you I am going to give you a smile," he said.

"I give you a blue ribbon for your effort, you did an excellent job."

Jason was just relieved that Peter was alright.

"I didn't sleep that night, and the second night I had nightmares and I was a mess at work," Jason said.

"It was horrible, and I didn't really feel calm until a few days later when I found out that he was in a stable condition and going to be okay," he said.

Although the ambulance arrived in just six minutes, Jason said it felt like much longer.

"I heard a bang from the other court, but just assumed that someone had dropped their racquet or something," he said.

"It wasn't until Monica Maguire yelled for someone to call an ambulance that I knew it was serious.

"When I got to the court his eyes and mouth were wide open, he had blood on his head and he wasn't responding.

"I started compressions straight away, someone went and got the defibrillator, but because we were all in shock it wasn't used, although it was talking in the background, then the paramedics arrived," he said.

As a dentist, Jason was already trained in CPR. Coincidentally, only weeks after the incident, he was scheduled to retrain so he could share his own 'real life' story about how CPR could Save someone's life.

Lorraine was at home when Peter fell and didn't realise how serious it was.

"I got a phone call from one of the young ladies at the squash club telling me that Peter had fallen over, hit his head and was gasping for breath," she said.

"I was waiting at the hospital when Dr Date told me that I should go down to the Services Club.

"I remember seeing him on the stretcher outside, the fire truck was there and the fire captain, Derek Brown, was holding my arm.

"I think it was a good thing that I wasn't there to see it.

"It has all been a bit of a rush," she said.

Peter has decided that he will give up playing squash and just keep score on the sidelines instead.

"I could put the squash racket down and pick up the tennis racquet again and just walk around the court, but I am not going to do that, I have had my warning," he said.

Lorraine doesn't want him to wrap himself in cotton wool but is glad he has decided not to play squash anymore.

"The professor that operated on Peter said that in five or six weeks he should be able to play squash again, well, I couldn't reach him to kick him," she said.

"When we got back to Cowra one of the local doctors told him that he had been given a hint and he has agreed not to play."

Peter becomes emotional when he thinks about the support he and Lorraine have received since that night.

"The amount of calls and cards we have received has been unbelievable," he said.

"I want to thank the whole community, as well as Jason and his helpers.

"Every time I think about their kindness I start shedding a few tears," he said.

Peter and Lorraine would like to thank all members of the Cowra Squash Club for their support over the past month by holding drinks and light refreshments tonight from 6.30pm at the Services Club. All members of the Squash Club are invited to attend.

Peter and Lorraine would like to extend a special thank you to the following people who helped to revive him and assist paramedics on the night.

Hugh Bryant, Laura Mikoda, Lucas Hayes, Shaneen Treasure, Monica Maguire, Mark Southwell, Phil Beer, Mitchell Beer and of course Jason Lau.

Peter has been told that he owes his survival not only to the quick thinking of those around him, but to his strong heart.

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