Cardiac survivor reunites with paramedics

Terry – avid gardener and walker, grandfather of 10, and husband to Yvonne of nearly 50-years – is recovering from a cardiac arrest

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“I owe my life to you Wellington Free Ambulance, because now, every day that I spend with my wife and see my family since that fateful January morning is a bonus.”

The 76-year-old came inside from the garden holding his chest, saying he was “not feeling well”. Yvonne called Healthline but hesitantly rang for an ambulance when she noticed the colour in Terry’s face change suddenly.

Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics Christine Galvin and Abby Wilkinson arrived shortly after, and as they introduced themselves, Terry began arresting.

He started to collapse, and with help from Yvonne, Chris lowered him to the floor and immediately began CPR.

Abby rushed to the ambulance and retrieved resuscitation equipment while calling dispatch for assistance.

After two minutes of CPR and a shock with a defibrillator, Terry began breathing again. It was a huge relief for Yvonne, who says the whole event felt more like a “lifetime”.

Within a few minutes of oxygen, Terry was responding as if nothing had happened, albeit a little confused.

Wellington Free paramedic Richard Northover arrived to initiate the thrombolysis process and help dissolve Terry’s blood clots as they sped him to the Coronary Care Unit in Wellington Hospital.

A tiny wire mesh tube, called a stent, was then inserted into one of Terry’s main arteries to pop it open, as it had become completely blocked.

He was later transferred to Hutt Hospital and then discharged home having made a full recovery. He and Yvonne donated a $100 bakery voucher to the Hutt-based Wellington Free paramedics as a token thank you.

Nearly three months later, Chris and Abby were back in the Epuni St home enjoying a cup of tea, sausage rolls and some heartfelt thanks.

“It’s such a heart-warming feeling being here with Terry today.  As Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics this is the best part of our job, this is why we do what we do, it’s just wonderful,” Chris said.

For the Hill couple, they can’t sing Wellington Free Ambulance’s praises enough and recently donated $1000.

“No words can really say how grateful my wife and I are for the way the only free ambulance service in the country was able to save my life. Every day is a new day, and I certainly have a different outlook on life,” Terry said.

Yvonne says she is eternally grateful to the paramedics. “I was quite relieved when they got here because I thought ‘someone is looking after us and everything will be okay,’”.


The Dominion Post came and met Terry, Yvonne, Chris and Abby when they reunited. Click here to see a video about their visit. 

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