Paramedic makes life-saving call

LUCKY SAVE: Michael Parkin, with wife Robbie Greenslade, has made a good recovery.
LUCKY SAVE: Michael Parkin, with wife Robbie Greenslade, has made a good recovery.

Michael Parkin "died" four times as paramedics worked on him after a major heart attack.

With his life slipping away, and top-level hospital care about 100 kilometres away, intensive care paramedic Ross Munro decided it was time for desperate measures. He took the decision to give Parkin, 59, a high-risk intravenous injection used only in emergencies because of the risk that it can cause heavy and possibly fatal bleeding.

Doctors usually do a thorough medical history check to make sure the medication is safe to use on the patient but  unro did not have that option with an unconscious Parkin.

So Munro called for backup advice and was put through to St John Ambulance deputy medical director Craig Ellis - who happened to be in Texas at the time.

They decided the benefits of the Tenecteplase injection outweighed the risks. A grateful Parkin - still recovering at home in Haumoana after heart surgery and on a cocktail of medication - said yesterday he was just thankful the right people came to his aid at the right time. "All the holes in the cheese lined up," he said.

He was surfing at Mahia Peninsula on March 1 when a surfer spotted him stumbling out of the waves, looking ill. His dog, Eva, was in a cage on the beach, barking frantically. Parkin insisted he was fine, and also insisted on putting Eva in the car and taking his wetsuit off before letting local volunteer medics check him over.

As he stepped into the ambulance, the heart attack hit him and his heart stopped.

The St John volunteers restarted his heart and kept it beating for more than an hour as paramedics were flown in by the Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter to aid him. 

Not one to accept help easily, he joked yesterday "the bastards were trying to hold me down".

After Munro's intervention, Parkin was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital, where wife Robbie Greenslade spent many anxious hours waiting for him to wake up.

Doctors told her four minutes of resuscitation was considered a long time and, because he had endured a lot more than that, there was the possibility of brain damage.

Greenslade braced herself for the worst when she went into the intensive care unit.

She told him she was there and that her sister had also come up for support.

When he croaked: "Oh no", she knew his brain - and his sense of humour - remained intact.

Ellis praised Munro for "thinking outside the box".

"It's a relatively risky treatment but the alternative is the patient would have died."

It was not unusual to get a call from a paramedic while he was overseas, he said. "I had about a dozen over that weekend."

He also said the prompt response from Mahia St John volunteers was instrumental in saving Parkin's life.

Volunteer Joe Hedley said it was a "rewarding save". "It's amazing the body can withstand that kind of treatment and that he came out alive on the other end of it."

The Dominion Post