Jan 06 2012

Stayin’ Alive and the Doc Marten CPR technique


You learn a lot of stuff as an intern in the Accident and Emergency Department at St Vincent’s Hospital. Some of the stuff you learn is even related to medical science.

St Vincent’s is located in what Millie would call ‘the fun part of town’.

During one shift,  a young man ran in yelling wildly – “Quick, quick, we need a doctor! Just around the corner!” 

My registrar Bill told me to come with him. I suspect against all protocols, we ran out of the hospital and followed this bloke through the winding back streets of Darlinghurst, and eventually into a boarded up old terrace house. The front room was very dark, but we could make out a few people tripping out. They ignored us, and we were lead straight past them.

A big fat guy was sprawled on his back across the small courtyard of the house. He was naked apart from a pair of rather incongruent frilly undies. He was clearly not breathing, and had begun to turn blue. He was drenched with water – his friends had dragged him into the back garden to hose him down to see if he would wake up. He had been sick.

It was not a pretty sight.

I was faster than Bill and had reached the scene just before him. But while I was remembering the A,B and C of resuscitation, and wishing we had brought a bag and mask (the kiss of life was not looking attractive), my senior colleague ran past and took charge.

Bill had worked in St Vincent’s for years, and knew everything about everything, especially in the eyes of we very naive interns. He was very big, very loud, and was becoming my hero.

Bill stepped up to our new patient, drew back his big right Doc Marten boot, and kicked the guy’s right hip.

We all heard the patient draw in a big breath.

Bill kicked him again. Another breath. And again. Sounded like someone sucking through a straw. His colour started to improve ( he went from dark blue to light blue)

I hadn’t read about the Doc Marten CPR technique in our textbook. Perhaps I had missed that lecture.

We rolled him onto his side.

“Lembke – stand here and keep kicking him till I get back” – commanded my registrar.

So I did. Kick – breath – kick – breath – kick – breath.

A few minutes of kicking (seemed like ages) and Bill returned with some Narcaine and an ambulance to take him back to the hospital.

One hour later, back at St Vincent’s, Bill called me in to Resus Bay 2 to wave goodbye to our patient. He was still unsure whether to be happy with us for saving him, or unhappy that we had injected him with Narcaine and therefore wasted his hit.

I was glad to see that he could walk without a limp.


I was reminded of all this by a new training video on how to perform CPR.

Last year I did my annual CPR refresher course, with Oro and his dummies from Reviva. (Oro ran a very smooth operation).

It appears that Bill was ahead of his time, at least in his approach to the kiss of life.

Mouth to mouth resuscitation is now an optional part of the Australian Resuscitation Council’s CPR guidelines. 

“If unwilling or unable to perform rescue breathing, then perform compression only CPR”

Effective rescue breathing is a learned skill. Rather then have people hesitate, or avoid doing CPR because of a fear of doing it incorrectly or a reluctance to perform mouth to mouth breathing, it’s better for people to get stuck in to the chest compression bit.

The US guidleines and UK guidelines also recommend that compressions are the priority – CAB rather than ABC.

I think that British tough guy actor Vinnie Jones would be an ideal choice to play the part of my registrar Bill when demonstrating the Doc Martin CPR technique.

However, the British Heart Foundation have already chosen him for their Stayin’ Alive Campaign, and he features in this terrific video. 

Vinnie will teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.





















What I Learnt On 6th January in other years

6th January 2011 Getting Things DoneGetting Things Done

One Response to “Stayin’ Alive and the Doc Marten CPR technique”

  1. Alastair says:

    Surely there is a better song to remember than staying alive, preferably something by the Oils.

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