Stella’s calming voice and expert guidance gave her confidence and reassurance at this most stressful and terrifying moment.
Linda had woken thinking her husband Greg was having a bad dream, but she soon realised his groaning was more than that. Greg was having a cardiac arrest.
Realising the seriousness of the situation, Linda immediately phoned 111 and was connected with Wellington Free Ambulance call taker Stella, a recent recruit to the role at New Zealand’s only free ambulance service.
Stella had completed her training and was settling into the responsibility of taking calls independent of a mentor when she answered Linda’s call in the early morning hours.
After performing the triage questions, Stella knew CPR must start immediately to give Greg the best chance of survival. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR is a life saving skill that anyone can perform, its purpose is to keep oxygenated blood circulating to the brain and other vital organs. It is given by doing regular chest compressions for as long as it takes for additional medical help to arrive.
Stella talked calmly and directly to Linda, guiding her through moving Greg from the soft bed to the hard wood floor to ensure the surface was suitable for CPR compressions to begin.
“It was all very new to me, and answering 111 calls for CPR instructions was still a bit daunting, but something just clicked when I was talking to Linda. She did an amazing job even though she had only just woken up and had to get straight into resuscitating her husband, Greg,” Stella remembers.
As Stella counted out the rhythm that would keep Greg’s heart moving blood around his body, giving him the best chance of survival, she also managed to keep Linda calm, reassuring her that the ambulance crew were swiftly making their way through the dark to their home.
Linda recalls “Stella’s reassuring tone and clear instruction gave me the strength and confidence to do what I needed to do. There are no words to describe how much her being there meant to me and our family. She is our superhero.”
Greg remembers little of the entire day leading up to his cardiac arrest but has total admiration for Stella and of course Linda who saved his life that day. After diagnosis and starting treatment for a previously unknown heart condition, Greg is almost fully recovered and is adjusting to his second chance at life, albeit at a slightly slower pace for the triathlon loving man.
For Stella meeting Linda, Greg and their children was a surreal experience and reinforced her love for her work.
“I felt a huge sense of relief knowing he had made it to hospital and felt ecstatic when I found out he had recovered and was discharged from hospital. Then to meet them all was surreal. To meet someone who’s life I helped save and his kids - it really put into perspective how imperative the work I do is. As a call taker you are not just talking to someone on the phone – you’re using multiple skills to help people and save lives.” Says Stella.
Stella is just one of the team of call takers at Wellington Free Ambulance answering the more than 151,000 emergency 111 calls each year. Trained to deal with anything from poisoning, to drowning, major incidents, broken limbs and cardiac arrests, the call takers are the first people to answer our communities request for help.
This year Wellington Free Ambulance is celebrating 95 Years of service to the community and we have launched a special 95 year campaign to raise $995,000 to support our life saving services As the only ambulance service for Greater Wellington and Wairarapa and the only service in New Zealand that is free we value and appreciate the support we receive from the community.
Each year we must raise over $7Million to keep our life saving services free of charge, your donation today will enable us to keep helping people like Linda and Greg for another 95 Years. Together let’s keep saving lives free of charge.