Off-duty Mangawhai lifeguard Quinn Bedford was prepping for a nap in his car after a massive day surfing in Ahipara when he heard the motorist next to him suddenly yell.
"He was asking if anyone knew CPR," the 22-year-old experienced surf lifeguard said as he recalled the ordeal of resuscitating a Far North man twice on Saturday.
The man shouting had just witnessed a bloke in his 40s slip, hit his head and plunge unconscious into the waves from the rocks he had been attempting to clamber over.
Bedford told the man "I do" before rushing to the water in Shipwreck Bay, shedding his jumper and T-shirt along the way.
The volunteer lifeguard of eight years, wearing only his board shorts — no fins, tube or wetsuit — dashed into the "pumping" surf as darkness closed in and the tide headed out.
Bedford headed toward two surfers helping the injured man face down in the water a few metres offshore near Iron Gates.
The surfers had turned the man over and positioned his head clear of the surf.
"Just seeing his face, I knew he had a serious head injury," Bedford said.
With the help of fellow Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service lifeguard Tom Kehoe, the motorist who first saw what happened, and his mates, Conner and Rodney, worked to haul the lifeless man up nearby rocks.
Waves pummelled the young lifeguard as he attempted to hold on to the man and cling to the slippery rocks in the chest-deep water.
"It was like pass the parcel — some of us grabbing his shoulders and others holding his legs and just trying to pass him up the rocks."
Together the group got the man to a safe flat space close by.
"I saw the signs straight away that he wasn't breathing," Bedford said.
The man's chest wasn't moving and his lips were blue.
"I've had an incident like this before but he passed away with his family right there. It was another thing playing on my mind — thinking 'Not this again'."
But years of training kicked in.
"I wasn't thinking, it was all instinct," he said. "I was going through the steps I've learned so fast by the time I knew it my hands were already doing CPR."
Bedford performed CPR for "what felt like seconds" but others told him it was three or four minutes.
"When he started breathing again my heart was like 'Yes'," he said.
They rolled the man, unresponsive but wheezing, on to his side.
"As I was trying to find his pulse the wheezing stopped."
Immediately he restarted CPR.
Bedford took every opportunity to urge the man to "Breathe bro, just breathe".
"I was so nervous. The chances of bringing him back were so low.
"We didn't have a defibrillator or oxygen. We were just there with only my hands."
Then, for a second time, the man started to breathe. "Eventually I got him to squeeze my hand."
Then the man's eyes began to flicker under his lids as he slowly came round.
"As soon as he sat up everyone was cheering and clapping," Bedford said. "His will to survive, to pull through, was so strong."
Kehoe had meanwhile organised warm gear and a ride for the man to where the ambulance was waiting to rush him to Kaitāia Hospital.
After the man left in a ute with Kehoe at his side, people hailed Bedford as a "legend" who had shown them the importance of knowing CPR and inspired them to enrol on a first aid course.
"That was a big eye-opener for me. Out of all of the 30 or so people there, me and Tom were the only ones who knew what to do.
"That quick reaction time is so crucial for a person's survival," he said.
The man, who is a Far North local, had thanked Bedford and Kehoe for saving his life. He is understood to be in a stable condition.