LIFE is a precious gift for Bossley Park's Charles Vassallo.
February 18 last year marked a life-changing event: he went into cardiac arrest during a greyhound race in Goulburn.
The 66-year-old was technically dead for half an hour, paramedic Scott Keys said.
But as fate had it, off-duty nurses Kate Verriere and Ursula Dowling were also at the dogs on that day.
They responded to the emergency before paramedics Scott Keys and Peter Kenny arrived.
"I really shouldn't be here — it's a miracle," Mr Vassallo said.
"Since that incident my life has changed big time.
"I never thought I would need CareFlight but it helped save my life and now I'm a big supporter."
CareFlight, a medical service which transports patients, flew Mr Vassallo from Goulburn to Canberra Hospital.
"I believe I'm alive to see my fifth grandson, who will be born in two weeks," Mr Vassallo said.
The two paramedics and Ms Verriere reunited with Mr Vassallo at his home last Thursday. The father of three was presented with the Ambulance Service of NSW's Cardiac Survivor Award.
"Not everyone gets one of these," Mr Keys said.
"Charles is part of a minority and very few recover to his standard.
"That's what makes it so remarkable.
"The survival rate is less than three per cent. So unfortunately, it's not always a happy ending.
"It just shows how precious life is."
The award recognises the survival of patients suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Heart attack warning signs include:
■Unusual tightness, crushing or stabbing pain in the chest;
■Radiating pain in the neck, jaw, back or arms;
■Anxious feeling, fast or slow heartbeat;
■Trouble breathing or frothy spit;
■Pale or grey skin tone or sweating;
■Feeling unwell or nauseous; and
■An urgent desire to go to the toilet.
Remember, in a medical emergency dial triple zero for an ambulance.
Source: Ambulance Service of NSW.