Meadowbank resident meets his lifesavers
When a Meadowbank resident’s heart stopped, a chain of people stepped in to save him.
David Willis had been holidaying in Omaha in April and on the morning of Easter Sunday, he had decided to go for an early morning run.
On the way back, Willis stopped to chat with a couple about their dogs and then jogged up a path off the beach where he ran into trouble.
‘‘Everything just went black and I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in the Westpac chopper,’’ Willis said.
Lucky for Willis, the couple he had just spoken to, AJ Hazelhurst and his wife Julie, were less than two minutes behind him.
‘‘He’d just literally hit the pavement with his face,’’ Hazelhurst said.
He turned Willis over and immediately began what would become nearly 30 minutes of CPR, while his wife called 111.
She had also downloaded the AED defibrillator finding app and Hazelhurst discovered one at the Omaha Surf Life Saving Club.
‘‘Every time I look at my kids I remember that day and everybody who kept me alive.’’ David Willis
She headed back to the family bach and asked a friend to head to the club. Hazelhurst then returned to where her husband was continuing CPR.
A lifeguard arrived with the defibrillator, shocked Willis, and Hazelhurst continued CPR.
St John paramedics arrived to help and called for the Auckland Westpac rescue helicopter.
Willis visited the Auckland rescue helicopter base on September 28 to thank some of those involved in saving his life.
‘‘Every time I look at my kids I remember that day and everybody who kept me alive,’’ the father of two said.
Over lots of banter, hugs and handshakes the group pieced together what had happened for Willis, who had little recollection.
Hazelhurst had done a CPR course two months before. He praised the 111 operator who had coached him through CPR aspects and validated what he learnt.
Westpac advanced paramedic Chris Deacon said the helicopter crew would have been completely ineffective if it had not been for the people there before them.
‘‘It was that first shock. That’s when his heart started again and the point when his life was saved,’’ Deacon said.
Willis spent more than two weeks in hospital.
HEMS doctor Emily Junck with David Willis, AJ Hazelhurst, Nicky Willis and advanced paramedic Chris Deacon.