A quick-thinking luge patroller in Queenstown has helped to save the life of a tourist going into cardiac arrest.
Lisa Mulitalo was visiting from Masterton and racing her daughter down the Skyline Gondola luge on June 14 when her heart stopped beating.
Another rider alerted first aid-trained Ed Antill to the no longer breathing 52-year-old, and the staff member jumped into action by starting chest compressions.
With time ticking and no response, Antill dashed to get the nearby defibrillator and administered two shocks, Skyline general manager Wayne Rose said.
He also phoned emergency services and five firefighters arrived within 10 minutes. Skyline also turned the gondola up to full speed.
Rose said the response from the emergency services was outstanding and once they had stabilised her, the crews informed him Antill had saved the woman's life.
The Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter airlifted her to Lakes District Hospital, before she was flown to Dunedin and then by air ambulance to Wellington — closer to home.
After 10 days in hospital, Mulitalo was discharged to continue her recovery at home.
She said without the professionalism and training of Skyline staff and emergency crews, she would not be alive.
"I cannot thank them all enough ... the odds were against me."
She cited St John research that found only 13 per cent of people survive cardiac arrest outside of hospital.
Mulitalo also heaped praise on Skyline for supporting her 26-year-old daughter, who was unaware of what had happened until she got off the luge.
Medics are unsure what caused the issue, but inserted an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to jolt her if it were to happen again.
In a show of community spirit, other tourism operators she had booked with all issued refunds "without even batting an eyelid", she said.
"Given how hard Covid has been for Queenstown, the care and compassion shown to me and my daughter has been beyond exceptional."
Rose said the incident showed the value of his luge staff having had first-aid training, and the importance of a defibrillator.
"I've just ordered another one for the top of the luge, just to ensure the entire site's covered, because you just can't put a price on it."