After a hike to Sunrise Hut in the Ruahine Range, Simon Malthus turned grey before his breathing and heart stopped, requiring quick actions from St John to help save his life.
Mr Malthus, 40, was suffering from a cardiac arrest on his family's Waipukurau farm. Last month he returned to Hawke's Bay with his wife Emily to thank the St John staff responsible for saving his life in 2009.
"He was just sitting on the couch when he went grey and stopped breathing," Mrs Malthus said.
"My mother-in-law phoned 111 where they advised and taught us how to perform CPR over the phone until the paramedics got there."
Mr Malthus is just one of thousands to benefit from St John ambulance services across Hawke's Bay in recent years. In response to an increasing national workload, St John ambulance announced last week it was increasing its callout fee to cover burgeoning costs. Hawke's Bay patients will be charged $88 - a $4 increase on its previous fee.
While Mr Malthus' emergency was a shock for himself and his family members, it is a daily occurrence for those working around the clock for St John.
Mrs Malthus said the St John ambulance arrived shortly after the phone call and immediately staff began attempts to revive her husband.
"They put the panels on him and brought him back, until he was breathing independently. It's not like the movies though, he didn't just wake up, he was still unconscious and completely out to it."
Taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital by rescue helicopter, Mr Malthus said it was "emotional" to relive the incident with his heroes after remembering only snapshots of that November afternoon before "coming to" in intensive care.
"I vaguely remember walking down the hill and patches at home but everything else is black, I'm not sure if I've blocked that out or what." He said the "surreal" incident had left him thankful, and now with a 10-month-old boy to care for, he attended regular check-ups for his heart. "The doctors still aren't really sure what caused his cardiac arrest," Mrs Malthus said. "No one expects their partner to potentially drop dead on a Sunday afternoon but thanks to the St John crew we were able to save his life ... they had everything under control, from the call handler in Wellington telling us how to perform CPR, to the team in the ambulance." Now living in Auckland with his wife and son Jack, the directional drilling site supervisor has had no major health scares since 2009 and visits his parents Central Hawke's Bay farm every few months.