CPR saves man's life
Colin Small's heart stopped pumping blood around his body for 23 minutes.
The Howick resident and his wife were driving home after going for a leisurely Saturday walk at Totara Park when he went into ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest.
The father of four has no recollection of his stand-off with death.
His first flicker of a memory is being in the Critical Care Unit at Middlemore Hospital roughly three days later.
"I was kept in a coma, my body was cooled down which is apparently one of the ways to protect the brain. I was woken up 24/36 hours later," he says.
"I kept asking ‘what happened?' I would get told and a few minutes later I would ask again, not remembering I had already asked."
But one thing he knows for sure is that a police officer saved his life.
The officer gave Mr Small CPR until an ambulance arrived. It took three shocks on the defibrillator for his heart to start up again.
"I don't think I would be here if it wasn't for him," Mr Small says.
Less than 8 per cent of patients who go into cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive if they don't get immediate treatment.
That, coupled with the period of CPR, makes Mr Small one very lucky man.
"From what my wife said even the hospital staff were apparently like ‘oh there's not a lot of point in doing anything' when I got there, but they did and of course they are all pretty surprised that I have all my functions."
The policeman, who only wants to be known as Constable Singh, says he was completing a bail check in the area when he noticed several cars pulled over.
"I was waved down by a member of the public who said there was a male unconscious in his car," Mr Singh says.
"Straight away I went to the vehicle where Colin was seated. I noticed that he wasn't responding or anything. He was unconscious. I checked his pulse; I didn't get anything."
Mr Singh's first aid training immediately kicked in.
"I asked one of the members of the public to help me get Colin out of the vehicle and move him to the side."
Passers-by helped with traffic while Colin was pulled out on to the road.
"I started giving CPR. To be honest by the end of it I was exhausted, luckily there was another member of the public, I think he was a pilot, he helped me a bit."
The closest Mr Singh had come to CPR before that day was doing it on a dummy or watching it on TV.
"You never expect it to happen, you go through training and you're like ‘OK, yeah I'm trained' but you never think that you will come across a situation like that."
Mr Singh says the thing he keeps pondering is the timing - a bail check unwittingly put him in the right place at the right time to save Mr Small's life.
"There hadn't been anyone on bail in that area for a while but recently there were a few guys which is fortunate for Colin."
It is a fact the pair had a good laugh about when they came face to face for the first time since the incident.
Mr Small has belonged to Coastguard for over 13 years and is national president.
Howick chapter members held a special meeting to honour Mr Singh this month and thank him for saving their buddy's life.
Mr Singh says having the opportunity to meet Colin again meant he caught a glimpse of the real man, not the memory he had of him.
"I still remember him as that deadweight pale person lying there on the road. It is humbling to see him happy, talking and smiling."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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