Dan Jakes is feeling better after his heart suddenly stopped in early December. He wanted to thank everyone who had helped save him. PHOTOS/MARY ARGUE
Single-minded focus and first aid training helped save a man’s life at Masterton’s Pak ‘n Save last month.
It was touch and go, but after nine days in hospital, enduring surgery and ICU, legendary trolley-man Dan Jakes returned home just before Christmas.
He was lucky to be alive.
It was pouring with rain on December 7 when Jakes, 45, collapsed while tending to the trollies.
His heart had suddenly stopped.
Six emergency services rushed to his aid, including two ambulances, a fire engine, and three police cars, however, it was Pak ‘n Save dried goods manager Tejash [TJ] Patel who kept Jakes alive in the first critical minutes.
Patel said his pager sounded mid-afternoon requesting a first aid responder in the carpark.
A customer had sounded the alarm that one of his staff members was on the ground.
Patel, who had completed a Red Cross first aid course only a month before, grabbed the automated external defibrillator [AED] as he sprinted outside towards Jakes, who was lying face down on the asphalt.
“He was blue from no oxygen.
“There was no pulse, no breathing.”
Patel started work immediately while an off-duty nurse called an ambulance.
He said he realised Jakes had suffered a heart attack and was acutely aware that every second counted, however, he kept a clear head.
“I was totally absolutely normal. I was only focused on saving his life.
“[I was thinking] I need him back. That was my purpose.”
Patel did CPR until paramedics arrived, and eventually, Jakes was transported, in a critical condition, to Wellington Regional Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
However, it wasn’t until 9pm that night that Patel learned Jakes had survived.
He said it was a long wait.
“My wife and I couldn’t eat that night. Just waiting, waiting.”
Patel said Jakes was a good friend.
“That morning, I was calling him Dannyboy, and he refused to answer.”
It was out of character, but Patel could not predict the events that would unfold hours later.
Patel said he wanted to thank the Red Cross and the person who trained him. Saving a life was the “biggest gift” God could have given him.
“It was a really good Christmas gift. I’m just waiting to see him.”
A Givealittle page to help Jakes and his parents had raised more than $5000.
Masterton Pak ‘n Save owner and page creator, Andrew Summerville, said the initiative was “community-led”.
“We had so many customers come in and ask what they could do for Dan.”
He said the page went live immediately, with donations rushing in.
Summerville described Jakes as a humble and genuine person.
“He’s friendly, always smiling. He likes doing a good job and is always there for a yarn.
“He is probably one of the best-known people in Masterton and is definitely a face at Pak ‘n Save.”
Summerville said it was a frightening day, but he was proud of the staff who had “stepped up” in the emergency.
“It’s pretty tough when you are in that situation to be cool and calm enough when it’s not something you do daily.”
He said it demonstrated how crucial first aid training was.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Dan is alive because one of the staff knew CPR.”
Recovering at his parent’s home, Jakes said he was feeling better but couldn’t remember much of the dramatic day.
He had been the trolley-man at Pak ‘n Save since 2005 and New World before that.
He said he was planning to relax during the six weeks of forced rest ahead.
Jakes was grateful to those who had saved his life.
“I just want to thank the people that have helped me out.”
Jakes’ medical report said a narrowed main blood vessel had triggered a “large heart attack”, causing cardiac arrest. CPR and electric shocks had restarted his heart, and he had subsequently undergone surgery for two stents.
Sonja Jakes said her son had “a long road ahead”, but it was good to have him home.
She said the day Jakes was taken to the hospital was tough.
When she and her husband Leslie arrived at the car park, Jakes was already in the ambulance.
She said they could see the ambulance rocking.
“We heard it took an hour and a half to stabilise him. They shocked him six times.
“Nobody wants to see their child like that.”
Sonja Jakes said numerous people had suggested a link between her son’s heart attack and the covid vaccine.
She said she wanted to quell rumours.
“We are all double vaccinated. It had nothing to do with the vaccination.”
She said friends and family had been good to them over the past weeks, and she and Leslie wanted to thank all those who had donated to the Givealittle page, the Pak ‘n Save staff and emergency responders.