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Back from the brink

Beck, Riley and Emergency Department Operations Director Trish O’Neill. 

“I always thought asthma was mild, but I was wrong, asthma is deadly,” says Dromana mother, Beck Gourlay.

Beck’s son Riley doesn’t usually suffer from asthma – but a perfect storm of bushfire smoke and a cold left the four-year-old struggling to breathe.

“Riley was fine, playing on the playground, but then he started to need more and more Ventolin,” recalls Beck, who already had an asthma management plan in place for when Riley had a cold.

“I took him to Frankston Hospital Emergency Department,” continues Beck. “Riley was well enough to walk into hospital, though he was crying and upset about not being able to breathe properly.”

After starting treatment to help his breathing Riley then become agitated.

“He started screaming like nothing I have heard in my life. It was like someone was falling off a cliff,” says Beck.

“Then his eyes rolled backwards, the nurses pressed a button and everyone came running.”

Riley was in respiratory arrest.

“I watched as they put tubes in him and put him on three different IVs, including one that went into his bone marrow to get the medication into his blood stream faster.”

“His chest wasn’t even moving, that’s how full it was – he had trapped carbon dioxide in his lungs.”

Beck says the Emergency Department team was amazing.

“Everyone had their place and I knew to step back and let them work.”

“The doctor checked if I was ok and asked if I had any questions. ‘I said is he going to survive? He hasn’t even started kinder yet’.”

The Emergency team saved Riley’s life that night.

By 10 o’clock the next morning he regained consciousness and was back to his usual happy self. A few weeks later, Riley started kindergarten and is loving it.

“Asthma isn’t something you can mess with – if your child has symptoms you need to go to hospital straight away. Thanks to the staff at Frankston Emergency, Riley is a happy kindergarten student – they saved his life.”


  1. Sit the person upright.
  2. Give four separate puffs of the reliever puffer.
  3. Wait four minutes. Give four more puffs if still no improvement.
  4. Call triple 000 if the person has still not improved, while continuing four puffs every four minutes.

*Source: Better Health Channel