'He died in front of me'
THE last time Mark Rae saw Gerry Reside he was being loaded into the back of an ambulance.
Yesterday, the two men were reunited after Mr Reside put a call out through social media and The Daily Examiner to find the man who brought him back to life after suffering a cardiac arrest behind the Post Office Hotel in Grafton.
On an ordinary day, Mark Rae would walk down Prince St to meet his family at day care, but a change in routine led to him being able to save Mr Reside's life.
"I dropped off some mail and took the short cut down the back lane behind the Post Office," he said.
"I caught him out of my peripheral vision and heard him collapse. I went over to see if he was OK and I could tell something was wrong so immediately I just rang 000.
"When he collapsed and was gasping for air his face turned blue, he stopped breathing completely and was unconscious with no pulse detectable. He died in front of me."
Meeting at the same location, the two men shared their experiences and an emotional Mr Reside said the feeling of meeting the man who saved his life was indescribable.
"He has got a friend for life. I can't thank you enough," he said. "I am forever grateful. If you ever need anything, I'm telling you I'm there,"
After exchanging numbers, Mr Reside said as a way of saying thank you he would take Mark and his family out to dinner and they were both happy they had been able to make contact after a few failed attempts.
The reunion between the two men was almost scuppered after a message from Mr Rae's wife to Mr Reside was accidentally deleted, prompting the 45-year old to make go public with his thanks in The Daily Examiner.
Mr Rae recounted to Mr Reside how he and another man performed CPR for six minutes while on the phone to the 000 operator who offered "reassuring" assistance by helping to pace the compressions.
He praised the emergency services who he said were "the real heroes" and urged the community to "do first aid and call 000 immediately. That's the message I would like to get out there".
"Understandably my early intervention played a big part, however, he was just lucky that I was in the right place at the right time and got him immediately after he collapsed."
That message was already taken on board by Mr Reside who noted his partner who worked in the health industry was ready to line up a first aid course so he too would know what to do in the event someone else needed assistance.
And After learning of the involvement of the two others who came to his aid, Mr Reside wanted to let them know how thankful to them also and encouraged them to get in touch.