Instant cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by a buddy and bystanders got Mpumalanga cyclist Mitch Arntzen, 41, breathing again after he suffered what one of them called “the widow maker” heart attack.
Friend Dylan Bradley was not going to let Arntzen “die on my watch”, and Shane Bond, whose brother died because he didn’t get CPR quickly enough, wasn’t going to look on either.
The men had just finished a Burry Stander memorial ride near Ballito.
Fortunately for Arntzen, his long-standing friend Dylan Bradley had learnt first aid after Bradley’s daughter, Gia, choked on a grape, also while on holiday at Ballito.
Bradley and two bystanders, Mondli Dladla and Shane Bond, said Arntzen had stopped breathing after collapsing at a table in a coffee shop.
“After the ride, Mitch said he was not feeling well and took a sip of coffee, then put his head down,” said Bradley, who is from Gauteng.
“Then he lifted his head and his eyes started rolling back and he swallowed his tongue.”
Bradley said he tried in vain to open his friend’s mouth, and shouted for help which came from Dladla, the first aid man at Holla Trails, a cycling outfit near the Sugar Rush coffee shop.
“I massaged the muscles behind his cheek to open his mouth,” said Dladla, whose job had also seen him complete a CPR course.
Then the second bystander, Shane Bond, entered the fray.
Bond, who had also been on the ride and had emergency medical experience, heard a commotion and shouts of “call an ambulance”.
“By the time I got there he had stopped breathing. I couldn’t feel his pulse,” said Bond.
He and Bradley worked together to give Arntzen CPR until IPSS Rescue Medics arrived and took over.
Arntzen’s wife, Sam, was full of praise for all who helped.
“Thank you to an amazing team who saved my husband’s life. And thank you for looking out for me and allowing me to be by his side all the time,” she wrote on IPSS Rescue’s Facebook page.
“You guys are my heroes. Unfortunately he is not out of the woods yet. But he is alive because of you guys.”
Bond said that last year he had lost a brother who had been unable to get CPR in time.
He stressed the importance of people knowing how to do CPR: “Even bad CPR just to keep the circulation going,” said Bond.
He said he was “just thrilled” that Arntzen, whose condition had been worse than his brother’s, had been saved.
From his hospital bed on Thursday, Arntzen said he couldn’t believe what had happened. “Apparently my buddies, bystanders and the paramedics did an amazing job.
“It’s all overwhelming. I’ll have to make some lifestyle changes but I’ll definitely get back on my bike,” said Arntzen, who owns a bike shop.
At his bedside, Bradley said: “My friend was not dying on my watch. I did my absolute best with the help of others.”
The two had ridden the same route near Ballito with Stander two weeks before the cycling star was killed after being struck by a taxi on a South Coast road in 2013.