AGED care worker Karen Evans is fortunate to be alive.
"I shouldn't have survived," the 68 year-old says as a matter of fact.
"Over 90 per cent of people that have a ruptured aneurysm like I had in the abdomen, don't make it to the hospital, let alone survive, so I'm quite special."
Those that got Mrs Evans from her block south of Chiltern, on the road to Beechworth, to hospital were a paramedic and two ambulance community officers.
"I owe my life to them for their quick response and what they did for me," she said.
A rapt Mrs Evans is sharing her experience to highlight the work of the volunteer officers from Chiltern.
"If we had to wait for an ambulance from Wangaratta or Wodonga that's at least half an hour one-way and then another half an hour back to hospital, that's an extra hour.
"Yet they were out here in 12 minutes and had me at the hospital in Wodonga in 40 minutes."
On that December day, Mrs Evans was trying to rest at home after leaving work at Howlong the previous day with stabbing pain in her back.
She was later diagnosed with gastritis after a 2am visit to Wodonga hospital.
"At around 5pm I woke in excruciating pain," Mrs Evans said.
"My husband Peter was up a ladder doing some work on the side of the house.
"Our dog Zinna could sense that things weren't right with me and started barking loudly."
Mr Evans called triple-zero and paramedic Greg Kay and community officers Andy McLean and Lee Marple raced to the property.
Mr McLean's knowledge of the roads in the area, ensured the crew took a shortcut to minimise time.
"That's one of the amazing things about our ACOs...in our Victorian communities, who live locally and know the people, they offer that local insight that can contribute to saving lives," Mr Kay said.
The acuteness of Mrs Evans' condition was immediately clear to the arriving helpers.
"She was as grey as a grey-coloured building, she was pretty sick," Mr Marple said.
"She was fading in and out of consciousness."
With a blood pressure reading of 60/25, the situation was grave with Mr Evans whispering in Mr Marple's ear "I'm going to die".
"I thought nobody dies on my watch, that's what went through my mind, it ain't going to happen," Mr Marple said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
After help and assessment from a doctor and nursing staff at Wodonga, Mrs Evans was found to have an 8.5-centimetre ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Following a blood transfusion, Mrs Evans was flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Melbourne for surgery.
The aneurysm was likened to a hose bulging and starting to leak and without intervention it would have swollen and burst.
After a stay in intensive care for 24 hours and a fortnight overall spent at St Vincent's hospital, Mrs Evans was allowed to return home on December 20.
She is undertaking rehabilitation as she attempts to build up her body; both her lungs partially collapsed a month ago.
It is expected to be another six months before she returns to full health.
Earlier this month, Mrs Evans, her husband and Zinna personally thanked her saviours with some chocolates and hugs.
"One day I would like to become an ambulance community officer," she said.
"I just think they do the most amazing job in our community and I wouldn't be here today without them."
Mr Marple, who runs an engineering firm when not doing ambulance work, was stunned by her recovery.
"She's bloody lucky I'm telling you," he said.
"It was like she had a guardian angel over her and everything fell into place.
"I'm not gloating about it because it's just a job, it's what we do.
"I enjoy doing it and every now and again you get a job like this that can be life-saving and it makes it cool."
Mr Marple was stoked at Mrs Evans' plaudits.
"It's really nice when you do something good that you get thanked for it," he said.
"I didn't get to eat any of the chocolates though because I'm on a diet."