A radio host has come to the aid of a comatose man she feared had died lying on the side of a street in the pitch dark early this morning.

Newstalk ZB Early Edition host Rachel Smalley was driving to work along a deserted West Auckland street just after 3am when she spotted a person lying in a gutter.

She noticed a jacket flutter when a truck passed by the "lump" and went back to have a closer look.

"I looked in my rear vision mirror but it was too dark to make out if it was a body or not so I thought I better turn around and go back. I pulled up and got out of the car and sure enough it was a man."

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As she reached down to the check the person she expected the worst.

"I couldn't see his face - he had a hoodie on - and it was dark but I was pretty anxious at this stage because he looked dead to me. I put my hand on him and he was still and freezing cold."

She dialled 111 and then waited with the stricken man lying awkwardly in the gutter.

"I always thought I'd be quite good in a situation like this but because I was on my own, because it was pitch black, and because I've seen some of the video clips about how violent people have become on synthetic cannabis I have to say I was a bit nervous."

The operator asked her to crouch beside the man to check if he was breathing and see if she could find a pulse. She said he was a young man in his 20s and twice her size.

"I thought 'if he comes around and starts swinging I'm probably going to be toast'. But I was wearing my running gear so I thought 'if push comes to shove and he wakes up and is aggressive I can probably outrun him'."

"He was freezing cold to touch and at that point I really did think he was dead."

She eventually found a pulse but despite her attempts to rouse him from his comatose state she could not wake him.

The ambulance crew also had trouble getting him to come around.

"The woman jumped out of the ambulance and started talking to the man in a very loud voice. She was yelling at him trying to stir him."

But he failed to move.

"And then she yelled at him 'Mate get up, quick, the cops are coming' and that's when he moved."

Smalley said he appeared "completely off his head" on substances, unable to sit up properly, arms flailing and incoherently mumbling.

At that point she continued to work.

"And that's where I left them, the man slumped in the gutter but alive and the ambulance staff trying to determine what he was on. Just another day, I imagine, for our emergency workers who are at the coalface of substance abuse in this country."