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 ker­


HEMS doc­tor Emily Junck with David Wil­lis, AJ Hazel­hurst, Nicky Wil­lis and ad­vanced para­medic Chris Dea­con.

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