When 26-year-old Joshua Ruff suffered a cardiac arrest while in the car with his mum, it was a life and death situation — but then a group of strangers came.
When 26-year-old Joshua Ruff suffered a cardiac arrest while in the car with his mum, it was a life and death situation — but then a group of strangers came.

Strangers stepped up in race to save Josh

It was the kindness of strangers that saved Joshua Ruff - and this week, in an emotional reunion, he was given the chance to meet the paramedic who rushed to help.

Nine weeks ago, on March 16, the 26-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest while in the car with mum Anne.

He remembers the feeling of "not being able to breathe" before passing out.

But in a stroke of good luck - which likely saved his life - three passing off-duty nurses stopped to help, keeping Mr Ruff alive until paramedics arrived.

"One of the nurses called triple-0 while another tried to do CPR," Mr Ruff, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair bound, said.

"And there was also an off-duty police officer that came and helped to control traffic and took care of my dog, Bentleigh.

"It was quite hectic."

By the time paramedic Ward Jongebloed arrived, Mr Ruff was on the brink of death.

"Effectively he had suffocated," Mr Jongebloed recalls.

"Josh doesn't have very strong muscles around his airway and was unable to clear his throat which led to him effectively choking on his own mucus and going into cardiac arrest - that was my guess at the time."

The quick-thinking paramedic's instincts were confirmed when, after clearing Mr Ruff's airways, he came back to life.

"We had a good outcome quite early into his resuscitation," Mr Jongebloed said.

"I think it was within about four minutes we were able to get a pulse back - really quickly. It was the basic fundamentals that saved his life - bystanders, CPR, timely ambulance response and basic airway management."

Mr Ruff was reunited with Mr Jongebloed on Wednesday, which he said was "really great".

"It was quite overwhelming and emotional," he said. "He said how hectic the situation was and how so many people were involved, just to get me to hospital. I didn't realise so many people cared that much - they saved my life. This whole situation really changed my perspective on life."

To donate on Josh's behalf, click here .

alanah.frost@news.com.au

Originally published as How strangers stepped up in race to save Josh



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