"She's my guardian angel": how Tiarra saved Peter's life
THE light at the end of the tunnel was growing brighter for Peter Sexton after he hit the gym floor and his heartbeat shuddered to a halt.
A rare and unexpected episode of ventricular tachycardia would have killed the 67-year-old Lismore man if it wasn't for his "guardian angel" - Tiarra Dicker.
Mr Sexton, a father of five, was hitting the treadmill at a Lismore gym about 4am last Tuesday when he felt a bit faint.
The next thing he knew, he was in an ambulance to hospital, after receiving lifesaving CPR from a terrified, but quick-thinking, Ms Dicker.
"If I was at home, I would be dead - only 5% of people survive ventricular tachycardia," Mr Sexton said.
"I was just sitting there on the treadmill, chatting to her, happy as Larry. It was just us two. I felt a little dizzy and then can't remember anything for a bit.
"I had no heartbeat, but she brought me back."
The pair reunited at the gym this week so Mr Sexton could express his heartfelt thanks to the 21-year-old Lismore resident, who shrugged off suggestions her actions were heroic.
"We were running on the treadmill, talking, when he just dropped," she said.
"I didn't have time to think. I looked down and he was on the ground.
"I jumped off my treadmill, turned it off, made sure he wasn't going to hurt himself and grabbed my phone.
"I've never been so terrified."
She began chest compressions, guided over the phone, after the 000 operator said Mr Sexton would die unless she took immediate action.
Mr Sexton spent a week in hospital, now wears a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat and had to give up his job flying charter planes, which he enjoyed for four decades.
But he was adamant he hadn't been happier in decades following his brush with death.
"She's my little guardian angel - I've told her that," he said. "It's all very emotional. Words can't express how grateful I am that she did what she did.
"Now I feel like she's part of my life, like I have an extended family."
The pair hopes their shared experience can raise awareness about the importance of first-aid training.