Having defibrillators available in public places could help save the lives of five or six New Zealanders each day.
A person's chance of surviving a cardiac arrest doubles if they get a jolt from a defibrillator within the first couple of minutes.
There are already more than 2000 publicly available defibrillators in the greater Auckland region and more than 7000 across the country but more are needed to make sure everyone has the best chance of survival.
St John medical director Dr Tony Smith said it was important to remember it was not just something that happened to old people - it could happen to anyone, any time.
"Cardiac arrest is when somebody's heart suddenly stops beating, usually without warning," he said.
"In New Zealand every day, on average, it happens to five or six people. It is far more common than deaths on our roads."
A person's chance of surviving a cardiac arrest was about 15 per cent but that jumped up to more than 30 per cent if CPR was started straight away and a defibrillator was attached within two or three minutes, he said.
To give everyone the best chance of survival, more defibrillators were needed in public places, Smith said.
"There's nowhere near enough. We need way more.
"They are cheap, they are easy to use and we strongly encourage all businesses and clubs to get one," he said.
"For less than $500 a year you can have a defibrillator on your wall and that defibrillator can more than double that 15 per cent [survival rate]."
But how do you find one of those 7000 defibrillators when someone's life is on the line?
There is no central registry for publicly available defibrillators in New Zealand and that's why resuscitation co-ordinator Gareth Jenkin set up aedlocations.co.nz.
After teaching thousands of people how to do CPR and use an automated external defibrillator he realised it was worthless if people didn't know where to find one.
"I'm a practical person and I was annoyed that people were dying in buildings that had defibrillators but no one knew they were there."
The website relied on information from the public to ensure the data about where to find the devices was as up-to-date as possible. He believed about 80 per cent of all the publically available defibrillators were included on the site.
He suggested people take the time to find out where the closest defibrillator was to their work, home and clubs as well as download the app which would pinpoint the nearest one wherever you were.
Smith said all organisations with a defibrillator were encouraged to register them online so they could be accessed in an emergency.
Close to death
Adam Booker doesn't remember four days of his life but what he does know is that he is lucky to be alive.
The 34-year-old was playing zorb soccer in Devonport as part of his stag do when he went into cardiac arrest about three weeks ago.
His friends started CPR while passers-by ran to the Ngataringa Tennis Club to get a defibrillator.
Doctors later told Booker there was not much chance he would have survived without such prompt defibrillation.
His wedding, which was scheduled to take place about a week after he collapsed, has been postponed while he recovers but Booker said his fiancee was just happy to have him alive.
Booker said he did not remember the day before his stag do, the day he collapsed or his first two days in hospital and said it was scary waking up in the hospital with tubes all over him thinking, "How did I get here?".
Speaking to the Herald he said he now saw how important it was for the devices to be publicly available.
Tonga Moke also learned first-hand how important it was to have the devices available.
He had a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest after falling off his jet ski at Waihi Beach in January.
Friends started CPR on him until an off-duty anaesthetist took over while a friend went to the Coast Guard to find a defibrillator.
Moke's heart was restarted thanks to the defibrillator 25 minutes after he collapsed. He later found out he flat-lined again a couple more times while in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter on the way to hospital.
Speaking to the Herald yesterday he said he was on the mend after having double-bypass heart surgery and was just happy to be alive.
"I'm getting better every day I get out of bed," he said.
Since then, he and his family had realised it was so important to have defibrillators handy they had fundraised to get one at the Bowentown Top 10 Holiday Park where they were staying at the time.
"It will save your life," he said.
Signs of a cardiac arrest
• Sudden loss of responsiveness
• No breathing
• No movement or other signs of life
• For more information, go to: https://aedlocations.co.nz/