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Quick response leads to second chance

Wellington Free Ambulance intensive care paramedics Cheryl Watson (left) and Jess Vanderberg (far right) with Nicola Thompson, 37, who suffered a cardiac arrest, and husband Garth. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Nicola Thompson doesn’t remember what happened three weeks ago.
But for those close to her it was a scare they will never forget.
At just 37, the Carterton mum was the victim of a cardiac arrest — one minute she was fine, the next minute in hospital.
“I don’t remember anything except waking up in hospital,” she said.
“I thought I’d been in an accident because I had tubes and things in me, but I had no idea how I’d got here.”
Thanks to the quick response from her husband and emergency services, she is still alive.
Nicola was unresponsive and blue when her husband Garth called 111 from the couple’s Dalefield home on Sunday, July 31.
Wellington Free Ambulance staff talked him through CPR.
That evening, Nicola had been feeling unwell and had a sore back, which she put down to the heavy work of feeding calves.
Her husband said she looked pale and felt nauseous, but that was about it.
“She pulled up a bean bag and lay down in front of the fire,” Garth said.
“I called out to her when the ads finished to let her know the show was back on, and she ignored me. No surprises there.”
But an odd jerk of her arm raised alarm bells.
“It happened so quick,” he said.
“I didn’t think it could be a cardiac arrest. She’s so young.”
It was only by chance Garth was not already in bed, as it was the middle of calving season which is his busiest time of year.
Wellington Free Ambulance intensive care paramedic Jess Vanderberg said he had done “all the right things” when his wife’s medical event occurred.
“Starting CPR so early, and keeping going until we arrived is probably what saved her life and is the reason she is making such a strong recovery.”
When Garth called for emergency services, it was only minutes until the Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics arrived on the scene, along with Carterton Fire Brigade volunteers.
It was also fortunate the Life Flight Westpac Rescue helicopter could land on the couple’s lawn, so Nicola could promptly be taken to Wellington Hospital for specialist treatment.
Garth has nothing but praise for everyone involved in saving his wife.
“What they did…we’re so grateful.”
*Wellington Free Ambulance is the only emergency ambulance service in Wairarapa and the only free ambulance service in the country. They are holding a Onesie Day fundraiser on September 9.

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