‘Dead’ woman backs new emergency protocol
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.
Working together: From left: Fire Service national commander Paul Baxter, cardiac arrest survivor Tanya Stevens and St John chief executive Peter Bradley.