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How Sophia's Siblings Helped Saved Her Life

How Sophia's Siblings Helped Saved Her Life

How Sophia's Siblings Helped Saved Her Life

When Marlene was alerted to a child drowning in the family pool at their home, she never imagined it would be her 16 year old daughter Sophia, a very confident swimmer. As Marlene rushed to the pool with her son Elliott, she discovered Sophia’s sister Brittany had jumped in and dragged Sophia from the bottom of the pool. Together, Brittany and Elliott frantically tried to revive her with lifesaving CPR.

Sophia and Marlene with Dr Andy Swain

All the Phillips children are passionate surf lifeguards – meaning they are trained in CPR.  This was to prove one of the most important tests of those resuscitation skills as they hastily worked to save their sisters life.  

Meanwhile Wellington Free Ambulance Medical Director Dr Andy Swain was enjoying a refreshing afternoon ocean swim at nearby Oriental Bay beach.  Noting the multiple emergency responders descending on a local house, Dr Andy headed towards the commotion to see if his medical assistance was needed by his colleagues.

The scene at the home was one of action – all emergency responders – FENZ, Wellington Free Ambulance and Police working together to save the young girls life.  Sophia’s brother and sister had done a wonderful job using CPR to maintain the flow of oxygenated blood to her vital organs until the emergency services arrived.  They quickly swung into action giving her heart two shocks with a defibrillator, the whole team worked in unison to try and stabilise Sophia enough for the ambulance to take her to hospital.

Sophia was still gravely unwell, but alive, largely thanks to the quick thinking and action of her brother and sister for immediately starting CPR.  

I know that Sophia would not be with us today if her brother and sister had not known CPR, it is such an important skill for anyone to have and no one ever knows when they might need to do it to save a life” reflects Marlene.

Sophia spent five days in Wellington Hospital’s ICU but remarkably and despite all predictions regained consciousness and was discharged only 8 days after her drowning.  It was later discovered that Sophia has a rare genetic heart condition called Long QT that can cause cardiac arrest. 

Remarkably just seven months on Sophia is almost back to full strength, back at school, enjoying time with family and friends and looking to the future.  Sophia experiences fatigue from time to time but is largely back to how things were before this life changing medical event.   

The Phillips family and some of their friends recently did a Lloyd Morrison Foundation Heartbeat course.  Heartbeat is the Wellington Free Ambulance CPR training that is freely available to anyone in the Greater Wellington and Wairarapa thanks to the generous support of The Lloyd Morrison Foundation.  

Senior Heartbeat Coordinator Rachel Evans says, “Our goal is to make sure that as many people as possible know how to do CPR because early CPR combined with the use of an AED can improve a person’s chance of survival by up to 80%.”

Following this life changing event Sophia and her mother Marlene are passionate about spreading the word on the importance of people knowing CPR, which is why they have joined forces with Wellington Free Ambulance to raise awareness of Restart a Heart Day.

Wellington Free Ambulance offers free CPR training for the community. This is made possible thanks to the generous support of our Cornerstone Partner, Julie Nevett and the Lloyd Morrison Foundation. Find out more and book your free session here.  Learning CPR could help you save a life. 



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