Max Schinckel survives cardiac arrest on football field

A fit and healthy 22-year-old footballer, Max Schinckel is one of the last people you'd expect to collapse from a massive cardiac arrest.

Yet that's exactly what happened at footy training last Wednesday night.

The former Kybybolite footballer, now playing with Browns Well in the Riverland, is lucky to be alive after collapsing on the oval during training in Loxton last Wednesday night.

In the middle of a handball drill, Max lost consciousness and fell into the back of a teammate. As shocked and distressed teammates looked on, he was kept alive on the oval through CPR from club coach Brad Williams and trainer Andrew Schultz while an ambulance raced to the scene.

When the ambulance arrived after 10 minutes, Max's heart was shocked twice with a defibrillator, before he was taken to Loxton hospital and then flown out to Adelaide.

While he was unconscious the whole time, Max understands it was a "pretty hairy" situation for everyone present.

I woke up and didn't know what was going on, I couldn't see a thing, that was scary

Max Schinckel

"I didn't see it but I've been told everyone was pretty shocked," he told the Herald this week. "(Teammate and housemate) Digby McNeil said he was just buggered, he just sat there on the oval and didn't know what to do."

Things were no better for Max himself when he regained consciousness in the hospital.

"I woke up and didn't know what was going on, I couldn't see a thing, that was scary," he said. "For the first day or so I had blurry vision."

The events since then are also something of a blur, as decisions were made that will change Max's life forever.

He has had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) installed under his left arm pit, which will monitor his heart rhythm and kick into action if there are any irregularities in the future.

That means he has to avoid electromagnetic currents, which in his work as a farmhand with Digby's father Ian "Swinger" McNeil means not using some implements such as welders and whipper snippers. He's also not allowed to drive for six months, and will possibly not be allowed to drive trucks into the future.

And then there's the other life limitations, which in the immediate future includes not playing football. For a keen and talented footballer playing alongside several former Kyby teammates at Browns Well, that will be hard to take.

But Max is understandably philosophical and grateful the outcome wasn't worse.

"Not being able to do some things I've done for 22 years will be a bit hard, but it's just something I'll have to get used to," he said.

"It hasn't exactly hit home yet - probably when I want to go out and play sport or something is when it might hit me.

"I just want to remain positive and thankful it turned out the way it did. It could have been a lot worse."

On that score, Max is adamant that his experience should be a lesson to sporting clubs and community groups about the important of having a defibrillator machine on hand.

He said he was lucky because he was training in town and had an ambulance close by, but if he had been working out in a paddock at Paruna or playing at a footy ground without a defib machine, the story could have been different.

"I think it would be stupid not to have one really, after that," he said. "If you've got one within 5km or right there, it could make all the difference if there isn't one for 30km."

Max has heard that the day after his collapse, the Loxton Lions Club bought and installed a defibrillator at the school where he was training.

If anything good is to come out of his scare, he hopes it might lead to many other machines being installed in public places.

Max was thankful to everyone who played a part in helping him survive the scare, as well as "a massive thanks from me for the people who have supported myself and family through the tough time".