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Knowing CPR drill key in rural rescues

Jonty Wall, with first responder and stepdaughter Hannah Kennish, is happy to be at home after a cardiac arrest. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Almost half of all jobs Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics are called to in Wairarapa are in rural or remotes areas, the majority of which result in those patients being transported to hospital for further medical assistance.

Last year alone, paramedics responded to 5900 call outs in the region, 2800 of those in rural Wairarapa.

Martinborough farmer, Jonty Wall, knows too well the critical role early intervention and medical assistance from paramedics can play after suffering cardiac arrest last September.

He had been hanging the washing out on the line at his rural home in Martinborough when he dropped to the floor.

His stepdaughter Hannah Kennish, who was in the kitchen, felt something was wrong and went outside to investigate.

She found him sprawled across the deck, not breathing.

Luckily, she had CPR training.

“We picked him up and laid him on the deck,” she said. “I could see that he was turning blue; there was no movement in his chest.

“I went through my little checks – you’re not breathing, your airways are open, but you need help now.”

She said it was a relief when the emergency services arrived – first crew from Fire and Emergency NZ and then WFA paramedics.

“It was great to have the emotional support and to know that someone with the knowledge and technology to help was with me.”

The crew from Fire and Emergency NZ had already delivered one successful shock via automated external defibrillator.

WFA paramedic Doug Hosking who attended, said the most important factor in rural jobs was time.

“Excellent CPR, an early shock from an AED – especially with where Jonty lives – ultimately saved his life,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of work to make sure members of the public do have adequate CPR training.”

He credited efforts such as the Heartbeat programme – a community CPR training programme that has been running in Wellington for 10 years.

Hosking said one of the challenges in attending rural events was finding the location.

“With rural properties, it may become second nature to just say the address it is.

“Give us little clues to help, if there’s a particular road between Martinborough and Masterton you can say which end, either south or north end, or which driveway to take.”

It was also important for farmers to have a means of communicating in case of an event, Hosking said.

Wall is now back at home. He doesn’t remember much apart from waking up in hospital a few days later but is grateful that help was there.

“Something like this does change your attitude. I am so fortunate to have my family around me.

“I could have been in the office or somewhere on the farm; the reality is that the outcome could have been a lot different.

“I owe my life to everyone who helped me; I just can’t thank everyone enough.”

More information about Heartbeat can be found online at, wfa.org.nz/heartbeat

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