St John is giving free tutorials in a bid to reduce New Zealand's cardiac arrest toll.

The organisation, which aims to deliver the hour-long classes to at least 5000 people over the next year, will teach the '3 Steps for Life' process -- calling 111, starting CPR and using an AED (automated external defibrillator).

St John said the formula was designed to give New Zealanders the confidence needed to take action when somebody has a cardiac arrest.

Of cardiac arrests that happen outside of hospital, 64 per cent happen at home and 19 per cent happen in public spaces, according to the organisation's research.


St John said applying CPR and rapid defibrillation could increase a patient's chances of survival by up to 40 per cent.

But for every minute without CPR or defibrillation, a patient's chance of survival fell by 10 to 15 per cent.

"More than 1200 people die every year in New Zealand after suffering a cardiac arrest," St John medical director Tony Smith said.

"New Zealand's cardiac arrest toll is four times the national road toll and yet it remains a silent disease in terms of public awareness."

The Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Report for 2014 and 2015 also found Maori to be disproportionately affected, with a 40 per cent higher chance of having a cardiac arrest than other ethnic groups.

As a result, St John has developed a Marae Cardiac Arrest programme using the 3 Steps for Life formula.

St John Pou Takawaenga (Maori liaison officers) are working with Maori communities and have engaged 30 marae around New Zealand to support training in CPR and access to defibrillators.

"St John is committed to enhancing Maori community health outcomes through our Te Ara Hato Hone strategy, just as building community resilience is an essential goal," St John director of community health services, Sarah Manley said.

To book a free 3 Steps for Life session, go to: