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Changed in a heartbeat

Yvonne Cashmore, Matt Cashmore, and Shane Johnson of Carterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Carterton man Shane Johnson “felt on top of the world” before his life changed in a heartbeat.

On July 6, Shane had just sat down for dinner with his partner Yvonne Cashmore when his heart stopped beating.

Yvonne quickly pulled him on to the floor and started CPR while her son Matthew called 111.

Yvonne had never done CPR on a person before and didn’t think she’d have to do it on someone as close to her as Shane.

The one thing she knew was that she was prepared to do anything to keep Shane alive, she said.

“I didn’t want to lose him. We’d just started our new life together. Things were good and I was really happy.

“I couldn’t see him breathing; I couldn’t feel a heartbeat or a pulse, so started doing CPR. I wasn’t panicking but I just didn’t know what was going on. He just wasn’t breathing so I just kept going.”

Yvonne kept doing CPR while Matthew was on the phone to the 111-call taker.

He was carefully relaying their instructions to his mum.

Help quickly arrived with a crew from Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

They immediately took over from Yvonne and carried on CPR until Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics got there just minutes later.

When paramedics Jules, Jaimee, Mike, and Chris arrived, they took over Shane’s clinical care.

Shane’s heart had already been shocked with the defibrillator once and he was in and out of consciousness – the paramedics knew they needed to get Shane’s heart going as soon as they could.

Throughout the resuscitation Shane was making noises which meant he was still fighting.

“It gave us hope that we were going to be able to successfully resuscitate him,” emergency medical technician Jaimee said.

Ten minutes later and after a few more shocks, Shane’s heart returned to a normal rhythm.

A moment of relief and excitement filled the room.

For Shane, the next thing he remembered was waking up on the floor.

He vividly remembered the level of noise and being surrounded by lots of people.

Although Shane was conscious, the job was not over.

The paramedics had to transport Shane to the emergency department at Wairarapa Hospital.

“This job was very quick and had a great outcome,” Jaimee said.

“Shane was talking to us as we were leaving the scene, which we don’t usually see with cardiac arrest patients.”

As a precaution, Shane ended up staying in hospital overnight.

He remained stable, which was a good sign, and was then transferred to Wellington Regional Hospital to be seen by cardiology specialists.

A few months on and Shane is feeling a lot better.

He said one of his biggest challenges since having a cardiac arrest had been dealing with the change of pace.

“Something like this changes your outlook on life. I’ve always said, ‘life is too short’ but now, I just think why put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

To support more people like Shane, visit Wellington Free Ambulance’s donation page at wfa.org.nz/donate

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