Cardiac arrest victim reunites with rescuers
When David Willis’ heart stopped a chain of people stepped in to save him.
Willis had been holidaying in Omaha in April and, on the morning of Easter Sunday, decided to go for an early morning run.
On the way back he stopped for a moment to chat with a couple about their dogs and then jogged off up a path off the beach and ran into trouble.
‘‘Everything just went black and I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in the Westpac chopper,’’ he said.
Lucky for Willis, the couple he had just spoken to, AJ Hazelhurst and his wife Julie, were less than two minutes behind him. The Castor Bay couple spotted Willis facedown on the path.
Hazelhurst turned Willis over and immediately began what would become nearly 30 minutes of CPR, while Julie called 111. Julie also downloaded AED defibrillator finding app and discovered one at the Omaha Surf Life Saving Club.
She headed back to the family bach and asked a friend to head to
‘‘It was that first shock. That's when his heart started again.’’
the club and 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. Willis told Hazelhurst the MRI head at Auckland City Hospital said he had never seen a heart get 30 minutes of CPR and not be bruised, scarred or have heart damage and broken or bruised ribs.
Willis spent three days in the ICU, underwent a quintuple bypass, and spent more than two weeks in hospital.
Other former patients will meet those who helped them in their time of need when Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust holds its second Rescue Reunion event on November 5. It will be first in first served for people who apply to come. Interested former patients can get in touch with Kerrie Spicer on 09 950 7222 or email email@example.com.
HEMS doctor Emily Junck with David Willis, AJ Hazelhurst, Nicky Willis and advanced paramedic Chris Deacon.