By Mitch Guy
WONTHAGGI’S Stuart Zaffarese has been hailed a hero after performing CPR on a woman involved in a single-car accident recently, possibly saving her life.
In doing so, he proved again that his disability is no barrier.
Sunset Strip mother of one, Kyra Lutz, was about to perform a U-turn when she blacked out on the Wonthaggi-Inverloch Road near the Wonthaggi Industrial Estate at approximately 12.30pm on Friday, April 1.
Her car veered off the left side of the road and hit a power pole.
Stuart was driving his work truck to make a delivery for Wonthaggi Garden Supplies, when he noticed Kyra’s car lose control and spin off the road while looking in his rear-view mirror.
He quickly pulled over and found the car in the ditch, before opening the driver’s door and turning off the ignition.
With Kyra unconscious and convulsing, adrenalin kicked in and years of emergency training with the CFA helped Stuart take control of the situation.
“I opened up the car and was about to freak out, but I looked around and no one had stopped to help, so I thought I’d better do something.
“She was in an awkward position so I straightened her up and kept asking ‘Can you hear me ma’am?’, but there was no response.
“I checked her pulse and couldn’t feel anything, so I laid the seat right back and had to perform CPR.
After a positive response, Stuart called Triple 0, but Kyra’s pulse was weak.
“I was performing CPR again at the same time so couldn’t give emergency services a good location. I had to drop the phone and tell the operator to hang on.
“A man came along and pulled over. I handed him the phone and said ‘Tell emergency services to come to this location’.
“I continued with CPR and I felt her heart start to beat. I was shaking. I was really shaken – I couldn’t stand up properly.”
An ambulance arrived moments later and paramedics worked on Kyra to stabilise her for some time, before she was transported to Wonthaggi Hospital and later airlifted to The Alfred.
She is now recovering at home with a sore neck and back, but thankfully, no lasting injuries.
A paramedic herself, Kyra expressed gratitude to Stuart this week for his efforts and thanked the paramedics who attended the scene.
“I’d like to say a big thankyou to Stuart for all his efforts and his caring nature,” she said.
“He needs some recognition for his efforts and he played a vital role in ensuring I got the best outcome, which is really lovely.
“I can remember little things coming back to me like his reassuring voice telling me ‘You’ll be ok, help is coming’.
“If I could have handpicked the ambos that treated me, it would’ve been the ones that arrived.”
Stuart’s caring nature was evident when recalling the accident last week.
“The ambulance driver said I need to go and see a specialist because I might be a bit shaken up but I said ‘I don’t care about myself, I just care about her. I want to make sure her heart’s going again and I’m just so glad her child has got her mother,” he said.
“That’s the main thing in my own heart; I just wanted her to be safe and looked after.”
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy from birth, Stuart hasn’t let his disability stop him from achieving his goals.
He works as a delivery driver for Wonthaggi Garden Supplies and as a tow truck driver for Full Tilt Towing and Cranes, and also volunteers as a firefighter with the CFA.
Co-worker at Full Tilt Towing and Cranes, Lisa Bain, said she was so proud of his actions under pressure.
“I think Stuart’s efforts were absolutely fantastic because he saved her life. She’d stop breathing and he commenced CPR – he did all the right things,” she said.
“If he hadn’t been on the scene she could have died.
“He does not let any disability get in his way. If he needs help, he’s man enough to put his hand up and say he needs help.”
Although Stuart struggles to read and write, and has some walking difficulties, he lives independently.
But he believes he is unfairly treated at times.
“I think people just see the disability, mostly,” he said.
“Some people are nice and will give me a chance and some people won’t.
“Disabled people can do all different things, just like a normal human being. We’re just like everyone else and if you want to put us in the deep end, we’ll surprise you.
“That’s what I say to everyone. I can do anything if I put my mind to it. It might take a bit longer but when I’m trained and know how to do it, I’m off.”