A heart attack at work in October last year has taught Alan Dukes an important lesson - to never take things for granted. Not your health or a rescue helicopter service that can potentially save your life.
The 56-year-old fitter never expected he’d suffer a heart attack, let alone one at work. On October 15 last year, Alan was at work at Broadmeadow Mine, near Moranbah, loading and carrying conveyor rollers up steps and ramps. He began experiencing breathlessness and some chest pain.
“I thought it was just the physical exertion – that I was out of condition,” Alan said.
While underground and unloading a vehicle, the pain in his chest intensified and wouldn’t go away.
“It got to the point it was too bad so I decided to drive out. The last place I wanted to die if I was actually having a heart attack was underground. I had a mate who died like that three or four years ago,” Alan said.
“I said to my colleague ‘I don’t know what is wrong, but I could be having a heart attack’. He took one look at me and realised I wasn’t kidding and took me straight to the paramedic on site.”
Alan was taken to the Moranbah Hospital by ambulance where doctors confirmed through blood tests he’d actually had a second heart attack.
“When they told me I’d have to go to Mackay I really wasn’t looking forward to that bloody long drive,” he said.
His condition was serious enough that RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked to airlift him at 10.20am from Moranbah to Mackay Base Hospital for treatment. At the cardiac unit in Mackay, Alan was diagnosed with an 80% blockage of his main artery and had to undergo surgery to have a stent inserted the next morning.
Alan is obviously appreciative of the rescue helicopter service which assisted him in his time of dire need and described the crew as “awesome”.
“I’m very proud to know my own employer, BMA, supports this lifesaving service. It’s actually great to see so many in the mining industry supporting the chopper that services the area where we all live and work,” he said.
“This experience has taught we you can never take your health or a service like this for granted. The last thing I ever expected was to have a heart attack at work.
“I really should go and buy a lotto ticket because I’m incredibly lucky to still be here to tell my story.”