“I was in the middle of teaching Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC), an advanced first aid course where we use oxygen kits, stretchers and defibrillators,” Alan says.

“Then an alarm went off on Craig’s phone and I thought: ‘Oh, okay, so that’s something real! We better get going.’ So, we picked up our gear, headed out the door and trotted down the road.”

Craig, a New Zealand Red Cross Disaster Welfare Support Team (DWST) member, was sitting his PHEC revalidation with Alan when he received an alert through the ‘GoodSam’ phone app. The platform connects people experiencing a medical emergency to doctors, nurses, paramedics and registered first aiders nearby who can help until emergency services arrive.

The pair happened to have all the equipment ready to go.

“Because we were doing pre-hospital emergency care, we had oxygen cylinders and resuscitation kits sitting on the floor in front of us at that time,” Craig says.

Each PHEC course is facilitated by two trained instructors and the other trainer stayed behind with the rest of the class participants.

Alan and Craig reached the man who was having a heart attack just minutes later. Paramedics were already working on him but there were only two of them, and they required the pair’s assistance.

“Part of PHEC is knowing how to use the defibrillator and the oxygen,” Alan says.

“I set up the oxygen and started doing the bag-masking, which is blowing air into him, while Craig took over doing some CPR. The ambulance officer then started working with the defibrillator and some other bits and pieces around us.”

Alan and Craig are proud to say the man has since made a full recovery. He had a pacemaker fitted, and less than a month later was back at work.

“It feels pretty good to have helped save someone’s life,” Craig says with a smile. “Especially when you look at the statistics of those who make a full recovery after cardiac arrests – the chances of that are fairly slim without effective CPR and a defibrillator.

“At the end of the day, someone went home to their wife and kids and family and workplace.”

Learn First Aid

Do you know what to do in an emergency? Our first aid courses are practical, hands-on, and designed to give you first aid skills that you can use when you need them most. We also offer courses for kids, teenagers, and a defibrillator programme.

To take a PHEC course, you need to have undertaken comprehensive first aid. PHEC is aimed at people who are frequently called on to provide first aid to members of the public, who live or work in remote locations or are in risky occupations.