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Minutes mattered when Ryan's heart stopped beating

Minutes mattered when Ryan's heart stopped beating

Monday 7 September 2020, is undoubtedly a day Ryan and his whānau will never forget – what started as chest pain quickly evolved into a life-threatening situation. Ryan knew something wasn’t right, so he asked his partner, Andrea, to call 111 immediately.

Paramedics Val, Katie, Hamish with Andrea and Ryan.

The phone reception was terrible. She could hear the calm voice of the call taker but they couldn’t hear her; what was worse, moments later the line went dead.

Due to where they lived in Wainuiomata and the issues with phone reception, our team sent Andrea a text message explaining the plan. For Ryan and Andrea this meant an ambulance and a helicopter.

Andrea had managed to get in contact with her neighbours – Jamie and Mike. “I needed help. Jamie stayed with our kids inside while Mike helped me to clear the lawn for the helicopter to land.”

First to arrive was our Flight Paramedic Hamish, with our Paramedics Val and Katie arriving shortly after. An initial assessment confirmed Ryan was having a heart attack. 

Minutes mattered; Ryan’s life was at risk. Hamish, Val and Katie knew he needed to get to hospital as quickly as possible. As they continued to monitor Ryan, the team decided to use the helicopter to transport him.

No matter what the emergency is, you play an important role in the life saving care we provide when the worst happens. Please go to www.wfa.org.nz/donate to ensure our team of call takers and paramedics are always prepared and ready to help dads like Ryan.

Minutes mattered; Ryan’s life was at risk.

As the helicopter started up, Hamish continued to monitor Ryan’s condition. When suddenly, Ryan’s heart stopped beating. He’d gone into cardiac arrest and was unresponsive.

“I thought the helicopter was taking off, but the rotor blades started to slow down; I then remember hearing someone say ‘this isn’t good’.”

Andrea ushered Blake back inside just as the stretcher came out with a lifeless Ryan on top. 

“I couldn't comprehend what I was seeing. Ryan seemed fine a few minutes ago; my mind was playing catch up. I was terrified and kept repeating ‘please don't die’ over and over. I felt utterly helpless…there he was getting CPR right in front of me,” Andrea said.

For safety, Val and Katie had to wait for the blades to stop turning before they could cross the lawn and help. “We could see Hamish performing CPR in the back of the helicopter. The thought of Ryan passing away on his back lawn, in front of his family, was awful,” Val explained.

Chest compressions needed to continue, as did the management of Ryan’s airway if he was to survive. They then got ready to shock Ryan’s heart.

The first shock from the defibrillator was delivered; nothing. A second and third shock was delivered; still nothing. Then with a fourth shock, came a heartbeat.

Hamish, Val and Katie moved Ryan quickly into the ambulance so that they could reassess him. Ryan’s condition improved slowly and thankfully as the minutes passed, he regained consciousness.

Our team are here rain or shine, 24/7, 365 days a year – but we couldn’t do it without the backing of our incredible community of supporters; supporters like you. 

"To be part of the team to care for Ryan and his family brings me great satisfaction. This is totally what we do the job for,” Val said.

“With Ryan, we knew that our direct actions had managed to save his life and that we had made a significant contribution to a positive outcome for him,” Hamish added.

Our crew agreed that Ryan was now in a good position to be flown to hospital; while an incredibly worried Andrea and neighbour Mike followed in the car.

It’s common in life threatening situations like this for shock to set in. Andrea was no different. “I just kept replaying those long awful minutes watching Ryan getting CPR; I was trying to comprehend what had just happened,” Andrea said.

Andrea and Ryan with children Blake, Stephanie and Hayley

To give people like Ryan the best chance of surviving a medical emergency, we need to ensure our teams are always ready to respond. Through your support you can help us be there for every mum like Andrea and every dad like Ryan so families are not torn apart.

“I am forever grateful for Hamish, Val, and Katie for saving Ryan’s life. It sounds cliché to say ‘I can never thank them enough’, but it’s true. I will never forget them; I will never forget their kindness,” Andrea said.

Ryan has recovered well and is almost back to being 100%. Like many who have faced a life threatening situation he said the experience has had a lasting impact on his life.

“A lot of the day is a blur. That morning I had a lot of luck with a lot of things going my way; all the bad things happened at the right time with the right people there to help. Time on earth is limited and can be taken away at any stage. The goal now is to value my life and all its moments, big and small,” Ryan said. 

You can help us help more people like Ryan and Andrea by donating today.



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