Beach drama 'luck' of News director's heart-stopper

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Expert help and a defibrillator were close at hand when News executive editor Bryce Johns suffered a cardiac arrest on a Sunshine Coast beach.

As he said afterwards, "I picked a wonderful place to die."

The Sunshine Coast Daily - which News Corp Australia acquired a couple of years ago - told the story of Johns' "luck" this morning.

He had been on home ground at Cotton Tree beach, near the offices of the Daily, for which he had been responsible as editorial director at APN News & Media when its Australian Regional Media business was taken over by News.

Johns, who had been swimming at the Queensland beach when the incident occurred, says a number of beachgoers "knew I was in trouble before I did" and started to help. Fortunately, Maroochydore lifeguards who were patrolling that end of the beach had a defibrillator in their 4WD.

Through the "skill and calm" of lifeguard Robin Smith - "plus several shots from the defib" - he was handed over to paramedics and transferred to Sunshine Coast University's emergency and intensive care teams.

The paper reports that he was unconscious for at least ten minutes and with depleted oxygen to his brain for at least three. "It felt like forever," his partner Anna Gibson - who was fetched by her daughter from a nearby restaurant - told the newspaper.

Johns was in an induced coma for 24 hours and had a defibrillator placed on his heart in surgery last Friday. Well enough to look back on events, he says in a letter to the paper, "without these magnificent people, I wouldn't be alive".

His current role as regional executive director with News includes responsibilities as digital executive editor which embrace metro daily the Brisbane Courier-Mail as well as regional and community titles. Previously he edited titles for both NZME and Fairfax Media (now the Stuff subsidiary of Nine Entertainment) in New Zealand, before a 2014 move to Australia.

Pictured: Bryce Johns from his Twitter profile

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