The man had no heartbeat and wasn't breathing.
But for the efforts of an off-duty nurse and a Hastings police officer, whose vehicle just two days before had been fitted with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), he likely would have died.
Rural Community Constable Senior Constable Brad Clark was on duty in Havelock North earlier this month when he heard a report of a sudden death come through on the radio, followed by the local fire station sirens going off.
"I was close by when the report came in and thought if the local fire siren is going this person could still be alive, so I shot around the corner to see if I could help," he said.
An off-duty nurse was performing CPR on the man, who Clark said was not breathing and had no heartbeat.
He got the AED - a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart - out of the ute and shocked him.
"We managed to get him breathing again."
The shock can potentially stop an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest.
When St John Ambulance arrived, the officer on board said the man was "lucky to be alive" thanks to the efforts of those at the scene.
Clark said AEDs were incredible pieces of equipment that save lives. It was the second time he had used one to save a life.
The man concerned is still recovering in hospital but is expected to recover.
Clark's fellow officer, Napier Sergeant Shane Greville, was off duty at the time and heading in to start work when he saw the police ute and flashing lights and stopped to help.
He praised Clark for being "so calm" and showing "real leadership", by providing guidance to others on the scene.