A boy who suffered a near-fatal heart attack while playing basketball a year ago has been reunited with the St John workers who saved his life.
Jarrod Church had an emotional meeting yesterday with paramedics Michelle Maihi and Monique Gore who restarted Jarrod's heart on the side of a basketball court in Papakura in August last year.
The pair were touched to learn Jarrod, his mother Kelly Church and brother Jason Ahuriri wanted to meet them.
"We were really humbled. Helping people is why we do the job," Maihi said.
"What we do is not heroic in any way, we just do the best we can and it's great to have a good outcome like this."
In their years of service with St John neither Maihi or Gore had ever been reunited with a patient.
The pair gifted Jarrod a bone carving from a local Papakura carver "for protection" and were eager to hear how Jarrod's recovery had gone.
"It is really special because we don't often know what happens once we hand over the care to the hospital," Gore said.
The pair sat down with Jarrod and his family, looked at photos of Jarrod's recovery and were able to fill his family in on the day Jarrod has no memory of.
Maihi and Gore had just finished a call out nearby when the urgent cardiac arrest code popped up on their alert.
"We saw the code purple pop up and then the age - 15 - and we said 'Is this even real?' It's really unusual for such a young person to go into cardiac arrest," Maihi said.
"We got there and worked really quickly to establish that he had gone into cardiac arrest."
It was estimated Jarrod's heart had stopped, and his brain starved of oxygen, for between six and eight minutes.
His mother Kelly was later told an undiagnosed heart condition triggered the cardiac arrest in her otherwise healthy son.
His left artery had lifted away from the right and become compressed, restricting blood flow and causing the heart attack.
Even when the St John paramedics had Jarrod's heart beating again he crashed again and needed a shot of adrenalin.
He was in a coma, had to learn to walk and talk again and has had a year of rehabilitation with the Acquired Head Injury clinic in Ranui and the Wilson Home in Takapuna.
There had been tears and frustration, milestones reached and challenges celebrated.
Jarrod met Boy and Pork Pie actor James Rolleston during his stay at the Ranui head injury clinic and was invited to attend a training day with basketball star Steven Adams.
Despite the odds Jarrod is doing well and has just returned to Papakura High School part time.
His older brother Jason Ahuriri has been employed as a teacher aide.
Jarrod is back playing basketball at interval with his friends, enjoying PE and art and slowly getting back to what life was like beforehand.
Jarrod said he was "pleased to meet the people who saved my life". Brother Jason said it was an important part of the family's healing process.
"We are just so thankful for what they were able to do for Jarrod. They did such an amazing job and it has been really nice to meet them so they know that."
St John District Operations Manager Doug Gallagher said the number of St John frontline staff who were reunited with their patients was small.
"Once a patient is in hospital our ambulance officers don't always have the opportunity to find out the patient's outcome, so it's very special when they get a chance to see a patient again," he said.
"Our ambulance officers are always really grateful and honoured."