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Shane Warne’s tragic death on Koh Samui has shaken the Thai tourist hotspot into a much-needed upgrade of its emergency medical facilities after it was discovered the island only had one defibrillator.
The 52-year-old cricket legend died on March 4 in his room at a luxury resort on the island, leading many to question whether his life could have been saved if the first paramedics on the scene had access to a defibrillator.
There is only one of the life-saving devices on the entire island despite having a population of 70,000 and an average three million visitors a year in non-Covid times.
Anucha Hanaiam and Kittchai Huadmuang, who were the first paramedics to reach Warne, told Daily Mail Australia that he may have been dead for up to 45 minutes before they arrived, so it is unclear if a defibrillator would have made a difference.
However a ‘defib’ has a success rate of about 70 per cent in saving lives when used in conjunction with CPR on heart attack victims who are reached in time.
The sole defibrillator on Koh Samui is fitted into one of six ambulance vans owned by the only government hospital on the island.
Thai paramedics Anucha Hanaiam and Kittchai Huadmuang responded to distressing calls from Samujana Villas on Koh Samui on the afternoon of Friday, March 4. They arrived on the scene and tried to revive Warne without access to a defibrillator until back up could arrive
Warne tragically died after suffering a fatal heart attack while holidaying with mates on the Thai island of Koh Samui
To make matters worse, those ambulances are rarely the first on the scene in Thailand where volunteer-run services are almost always the first emergency responders.
That is the case on Koh Samui, where volunteer-manned Samui Rescue is the first responders in 95 per cent of emergency incidents.
The service has 10 ambulances across five locations on the island, and not one has a defibrillator.
The paramedics did their best to save Warne, taking over CPR efforts from his friend Andrew Neophitou who had desperately worked for 20 minutes to try and resuscitate the cricket great.
Eventually another team of medics arrived and Mr Huadmuang and Mr Hanaiam transferred care of Warne to hospital staff.
In response to Warne’s death, locals and expats have come together to raise funds to help support the volunteers and medical staff who respond to emergency situations.
Defibs4Samui will launch on April 20 with the hope of raising enough money to fit all 16 ambulances on the island with a defibrillator, at a cost of about 750,000 baht ($AUD30,000).
Defibs4Samui will launch on April 20 with the hope of raising enough money to fit all 16 ambulances on the island with a defibrillator, at a cost of about 750,000 baht ($AUD30,000)
Major donors will go into the draw to win prizes, including a suit made by Parsuram Panday, who was Warne’s personal tailor whenever he visited Koh Samui
Major donors will go into the draw to win prizes, including a suit made by Parsuram Panday, who was Warne’s personal tailor whenever he visited Koh Samui.
‘I feel very emotional about this cause because I got to know Shane from repeated consultations and fittings, and he visited my shop just hours before he passed away,’ Mr Panday said.
‘The wonderful Rescue Team were the first on the scene to help him, and I would like to donate a suit to this fundraiser to help our community.’
The first person who donates 100,000 baht or more will win a custom tailored cashmere suit made by Mr Panday and his team at Brioni Tailors on Koh Samui.
Parsuram Panday (pictured holding a suit ordered by Warne before his death), a tailor on the island Koh Samui received a surprise visit from the cricket legend on the day of his death. He was one of the last people to see him alive
Hours before his sudden death, Shane Warne placed an order for five blazers, 10 pairs of slacks, five pairs of shorts and another five shirts (pictured, invoices for his order)
The Rotary Club of Samui-Phangan, which is co-ordinating the Defibs4Samui campaign, is also aiming to get emergency contact numbers widely displayed across the island so there is no delay in calling for help.
They hope to raise a further 75,000 baht ($2,500) for training, billboards and posters.
Bangkok Hospital will provide certified CPR and defibrillator training to all Rescue Teams. Follow up training will be conducted every four months.
Defibs4Samui organiser and Rotary member Gary Sparkes, 70, told Daily Mail Australia he ‘was devastated’ to learn of cricket hero’s death just minutes from his own home in Koh Samui.
‘To be so close, to not be able to help, and to lose one of my cricketing heroes way too young was very upsetting.
‘It was with a heavy heart that I recently attended a blessing ceremony for Shane Warne, here on Koh Samui where he spent his last days.’
Mr Sparkes said he was shocked and moved to learn that so many first response teams on the island are not equipped with defibrillators.
‘We want to equip all emergency vehicles with defibs, so that all residents and visitors to Samui can feel safe in the knowledge that the best healthcare is being provided in a life threatening situation,’ he said.
‘Even I might need a defib one day.’
CCTV supplied to Daily Mail Australia captured Warne strolling through his Koh Samui villa after a visit to his tailor earlier that afternoon
Warne’s friend Andrew Neophitou applied CPR for 20 minutes before medics took over and Warne was rushed to the Thai International Hospital on Koh Samui, where he was pronounced dead. The hospital is pictured
What is a defibrillator?
A defibrillator is a device that uses electricity to re-start the heart or shock it back into its correct rhythm.
It is used when someone has a sudden cardiac arrest.
Research shows survival rates of up to 70% when a defib machine is used along with CPR.
Mr Hanaiam and Mr Huadmuang were two of the volunteers who responded to distressing calls from the resort on the afternoon of Friday, March 4.
They told Daily Mail Australia it was likely Warne suffered a heart attack long before his friends came to check on him after he was late arriving for their rendezvous.
The great Australian leg spinner had a massage and then back-to-back treatments booked with a manicurist and pedicurist.
A staff member at the resort told Daily Mail Australia that most of the treatments were booked through his villa manager, using staff from nearby affiliate businesses.
When Mr Hanaiam and Mr Huadmuang arrived at the resort, Mr Neophitou was still performing CPR, as his friends shouted ‘come on Shane, come on’ in the background.
But Warne had no pulse even when they began working to revive him.
‘We still did everything we could,’ Mr Huadmuang said. ‘We performed CPR for 20 minutes trying to bring him back to life.’
Warne was not confirmed dead until he arrived at Samui International Hospital.
He was farewelled in a private funeral and a state service in Victoria on March 30.
To donate to the appeal, visit here
The tailor who designed Warne’s suits in Koh Samui will provide a cashmere suit to a donor
Masseuse Nok said she arrived at the Samujana Villas resort about 3.15pm and left just after 4pm. She massaged Warne in a room near the pool. Pictured is Warne’s room where friends and paramedics tried desperately to keep him alive
Concerns for Aussie’s heart health after two years of Covid lockdowns
A recent Heart Foundation study warned the number heart attacks could rise as Australians missed out on vital health checks amid the Covid pandemic.
The study found that states least affected by the pandemic, including Western Australia and Queensland, had the highest rates of health screening, averaging 30 heart health checks per 1,000 eligible adults, well above the national average of 25 checks per 1,000 adults.
Lockdowns, along with the resource-intensive roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination and booster programs in GP practices, were linked to dramatic drops of up to 40 per cent in people having the check across the country.
A heart health check was added as a temporary item to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) in 2019 following a campaign by the Heart Foundation.
The Heart Foundation is calling for the check to become permanent.
‘This concerning data reinforces the urgency of making heart health checks a permanent part of the MBS, as doctors will be dealing with a backlog of people who need preventative heart health care for years to come,’ Professor Jennings said.
Heart health check’s are designed for people who haven’t yet had a heart event but may be at risk of one and is available to Australians aged 45 years and over, and 30 years and over for Indigenous people.