‘Dead’ woman backs new emer­gency pro­to­col

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Tanya Stevens knows how cru­cial time can be in a med­i­cal emer­gency.

The 43-year-old cred­its the quick re­sponse of emer­gency work­ers with her sur­vival after suf­fer­ing a car­diac ar­rest in Au­gust.

On Tues­day she at­tended the sign­ing of an up­dated mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing that aims to save more lives by hav­ing the Fire Ser­vice support St John in at­tend­ing med­i­cal calls.

‘‘I feel pretty lucky. I’m glad to be able to stand here,’’ she says.

Since De­cem­ber 2013 fire­fight­ers have been rou­tinely co-re­spond­ing with am­bu­lances to all ‘‘pur­ple’’, or crit­i­cal, in­ci­dents such as car­diac and res­pi­ra­tory ar­rests.

There are about three of th­ese calls in Auck­land each day.

Fire crews may be able to reach a pa­tient quicker and start CPR or de­fib­ril­late them be­fore the am­bu­lance ar­rives.

Us­ing a de­fib­ril­la­tor on a per­son who is in car­diac ar­rest can in­crease their chance of sur­vival by up to 40 per cent.

Fire­fight­ers were the first on the scene when Stevens col­lapsed at her home in Waiuku.

Her part­ner Chas had started CPR first with the guid­ance of a St John 111 op­er­a­tor.

‘‘I died. They lost my pulse and they were sort of ready to stop try­ing,’’ Stevens says.

For­tu­nately she pulled through, had surgery and was up and about just four months later.

She hadn’t had prob­lems be­fore.

‘‘My fam­ily has a his­tory of it and I was quite mind­ful of it and kept pretty healthy.

‘‘It was pretty scary re­ally. I’m just glad ev­ery­thing lined up on that day,’’ she says.

A mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing has been in place be­tween St John and the

heart Fire Ser­vice since 2005.

The up­dated ver­sion sets out clear pro­cesses about who should re­spond and when, pro­ce­dures for dis­patch­ing ve­hi­cles, equip­ment and train­ing lev­els among other things.

‘‘It’s just ce­ment­ing a re­ally im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship that the two or­gan­i­sa­tions have had for some time,’’ Fire Ser­vice na­tional com­man­der Paul Baxter says.

Fires have shrunk as an over­all pro­por­tion of the ser­vice’s work and the agree­ment fits with the ser­vice’s aim to pro­vide ef­fi­cient re­sponse to all types of emer­gen­cies, Baxter says.

The agree­ment also gov­erns ‘‘first re­spon­ders’’.

Th­ese are fire brigades in 56 ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas that are trained in a higher level of first aid.

Photo: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Work­ing to­gether: From left: Fire Ser­vice na­tional com­man­der Paul Baxter, car­diac ar­rest sur­vivor Tanya Stevens and St John chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Bradley.

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