Roger Pharazyn reckons he owes his workmates a few beers, and when you hear about how they saved his life you'd probably agree.
The SSA foreman was one of several people doing a training exercise at the Napier Port on December 4 last year when he had a heart attack.
"One minute we were laughing away there and the next minute he started buckling at the knees," SSA stevedore Bob Te Maro said.
"I thought he was stretching a bit but he kept dropping backwards so I went in underneath his arms and started yelling out for help."
He caught the attention of those milling around, including Napier Port safety adviser Andrew Morton who had just completed an advanced St John pre-hospital emergency care course and recognised Pharazyn hadn't just fainted.
"He was convulsing a lot so we put him into the recovery position. We thought initially he was having an epileptic fit, but then he started to go blue so we knew at that stage that it was something else and suspected it was a heart attack."
It took mere moments before staff in the area jumped into action; Morton organising Te Maro to give chest compressions and Napier Port crane operator Tony Andrews to give mouth-to-mouth while a St John ambulance was called.
"One of the security vehicles had a trauma kit in it with the AED defibrillator which was used to shock him. We administered a couple of shocks and put a tube down his airway to keep it clear," Morton said.
"It was co-ordinated but we hadn't been in a situation like that before. There was a lot of communication and talking to one another."
Pharazyn was given three shocks with the defibrillator before a St John ambulance arrived and medical professionals took over.
The 62-year-old would later be told by cardiologists he would have been a dead man if it weren't for the early intervention of his co-workers.
St John volunteer Ian Wilmot, who attended the scene on the day, hailed the man's co-workers "heroes" for their quick action.
"The fact they jumped in and did what they did makes them the heroes.
"We came in at the end of it and took over from there but they were the ones that kept him alive for that time."
"The work they did was great with early recognition, early intervention with the AED defibrillator, the confidence to use it and keeping chest compressions going."
Pharazyn was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital in the ambulance before being flown to Wellington Hospital for further treatment.
After a few months of rest, the SSA foreman was back to work on limited hours and last week sat down with those who saved his life, for the first time since the incident.
Andrews said the biggest reward for those involved was that Pharazyn was alive and well enough to be back at work.
"I think it's pretty special. I don't particularly care about beer, I just think it's good that he's here," Morton said.
Pharazyn said he couldn't recall anything about the drama, the last thing he remembered was getting out of a ute that day, but he wanted to thank his workmates for what they did.
"The camaraderie down here [at the Napier Port] is fantastic. I was quite touched by it and it brings tears to your eyes."
After a "month in custody" at hospitals, the Napier man said he was blown away by the care he received and wanted to extend this to St John, which is in the middle of its Heart of Gold Annual Appeal.
"Coming away I thought - wow - from the senior cardiologists right down the person who brings you a cup of tea it's real attitude and it makes you feel pretty good to be living in New Zealand."
The St John fundraising appeal raises about 25 per cent of its annual operating budget and runs until April 8 with nationwide street collections this Friday.
Donations can be made at any ASB Branch, online at www.heartofgold.org.nz, by calling 0800 ST JOHN, and to street collectors throughout New Zealand.