From bricklayer to lifesaver

17 May, 2017

When MEGT apprentice Kyuss Smith last sat down to watch an episode of NCIS, he probably didn’t imagine it would one day save a life. But when the second-year apprentice bricklayer spotted a colleague collapse at work recently, that’s exactly what happened.

Kyuss was working on a job in Orange, NSW for his employer Gary Pollack Bricklaying, when he saw his co-worker collapse on the way to the break area. The 17-year old knew he had to help and used the only instruction he’d ever had on resuscitation – the last episode of NCIS he’d watched.

“He was fitting and frothing at the mouth and his eyes rolled back in his head,” Kyuss said. “He stopped breathing, it was pretty scary.”

Remembering what he’d seen on the American crime drama, Kyuss sprang into action, rolling his colleague over, clearing his airways, and beginning compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“I didn’t panic, I saw he was down and I flipped him and started pumping,” Kyuss said. “One of the other kids ran off to get help, but I didn’t worry about anything else.”

When the man started fitting again, Kyuss knew his patient was alive. Soon after, the paramedics arrived and gave the man oxygen, leaving Kyuss to take in what he’d just achieved.

“I was pretty happy,” he said. “I’d never taken a class.”

Kyuss’ supervisor, Gary Pollack, said he didn’t expect his apprentice to take charge but was impressed and proud that he had.

“It’s a life-defining moment for him,” Gary said. “He acted quickly and decisively at the right time – I don’t know if his co-worker would’ve made it if someone hadn’t been there. He should be confident he can do anything after this.”

Kyuss’ colleague was taken to Orange Health Service where he is recovering.