‘I just did what nurses do’
The everyday heroism of UTS graduate Grace Jones is shining a light on nursing skills.
Could you provide CPR in an emergency?
What about use a defibrillator on someone in cardiac arrest?
On the night of January 17, when The Wiggles were midway through a sold-out bushfires fundraiser at Castle Hill RSL, a young off-duty nurse stepped forward and did both after Yellow Wiggle Greg Page collapsed.
The incident propelled 23-year-old Grace Jones into the spotlight as the extraordinary story of Page’s near-death experience hit the headlines. Page, who suffers from a circulatory disorder called orthostatic intolerance, had gone into cardiac arrest when a major blood vessel in his heart became blocked.
“The hero of the story here today is Grace who was brave enough to step forward,” said a senior NSW Ambulance paramedic who arrived on the scene after Jones had administered three shocks with a defibrillator to re-start Page’s heart.
I woke up the next morning and thought to myself, did that really happen?
Jones, a lifelong Wiggles fan who attended the gig with her parents and siblings, is reluctant to describe herself as “brave”.
“In a way, it was a bit surreal – I woke up the next morning and thought to myself, did that really happen? Actually, looking back, it was probably a bit scary,” she says.
“At the time though, I saw they could use my help and I just did what nurses do. That kind of situation can happen every single day in a nurse’s job – it’s just that it’s not always with a famous person.”
However, since the spotlight is shining on her – and, more to the point, on those precious skills – Jones wants to use it to good effect.
I hope that what I did for Greg Page inspires people to sign up for first aid training.
She wants people to recognise and value the important work that nurses do. And she wants to see many more ordinary members of the community acquire the skills and confidence to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use a defibrillator.
“I’m reluctant to see myself as a role model, but I just hope that what I did for Greg Page inspires people to sign up for first aid training, to learn how to do CPR, and to be confident to step forward in an emergency.”
The Heart Foundation says someone suffering a cardiac arrest is more than twice as likely to survive with intervention in the crucial first minutes.
Jones graduated from UTS with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2018 and is on a six-month rotation in orthopaedics at Royal North Shore hospital, having previously been in cardiology which she “absolutely loved”.
That just gave me more fire to do better, to be better.
The second-youngest of five children, she says her mum, a mental health nurse, is her greatest role model, though her grandmothers were also nurses and her aunt is a nurse practitioner.
“I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember,” she says, though notes wryly that during a prac when she was studying at TAFE, a senior nurse told her she wasn’t cut out for nursing.
“That just gave me more fire to do better, to be better.”
This story is the first in an occasional series to mark the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in 2020.
Dean of Health Professor Suzanne Chambers AO said: “The success rate for out of hospital resuscitations is low, and on any other day Greg may not have survived the cardiac arrest. There is little doubt that the quick-thinking and clinical expertise of Grace and others saved his life, and Greg is now recovering from surgery.
“Grace is a wonderful ambassador for UTS and our Faculty, demonstrating a commitment to service that is universally practised by nurses, midwives and other health professionals. While we rarely see headline news of everyday heroism like this, it serves as a powerful reminder of our impact, underscoring the value of education and service.”