An off-duty firefighter's actions to rush to a Rotorua home to help perform CPR is believed to be the first time a new smartphone app was used to help save a life.

Terry Robinson had only just joined GoodSAM Responder, a new St John Ambulance-run app that alerts people trained in CPR to situations in their areas where they might be able to help.

The app alerts registered "responders" to the crisis area and advises where the nearest defibrillator is.

Robinson had just sat down after dinner on Monday, May 14 about 8.45pm when he got an alert on his phone.


It said a man, who was John Raphael, was having a cardiac arrest on Mokoia Dr - only around the corner from where Robinson lived.

While he knew an ambulance was on its way, Robinson thought he might be able to get there quicker to start the CPR process.

Robinson is trained in first aid through the Fire Service and joined the app only days earlier.

When he arrived, he found John's wife, Jennifer, performing what he said was excellent CPR.

He said it was difficult to keep up good form for any longer than four minutes and she had already been going about eight minutes.

Robinson took over for another four to five minutes until St John arrived and set up a defibrillator, which shocked John's heart back into beating.

"She did everything right. She did a really awesome job."

Since joining GoodSAM Responder, Robinson has had about five alerts, but John's was the first he had responded to as the others were too far away.


"In the Fire Service we know the importance of getting to a scene quickly so if I can do my bit then that's great."

Robinson went back to the Raphaels' three days after John's heart attack to pick up his glasses.

"It was so good to see him up and about ... But I don't need any praise because I just did what anyone would do."

St John launched the GoodSAM Responder in New Zealand in April.

Medical director Dr Tony Smith said St John was delighted to hear John had survived his sudden cardiac arrest thanks to the quick thinking of both his wife and a trained GoodSAM Responder.

"This quick intervention will have certainly helped to save the patient's life, and goes to the heart of the purpose of the GoodSAM App. This is hugely exciting as this is the first event we've been notified about where a GoodSAM Responder has directly helped to save someone's life since we launched the app in April."

Smith said for every minute without CPR or defibrillation, survival chances decreased by 10 to 15 per cent.

He said in New Zealand about 2000 people a year suffered sudden cardiac arrest, and less than 14 per cent survived.

"This helps to illustrate how absolutely everything went right to help increase this individual's survival chances."

St John hopes to see more members of the public learning CPR and becoming GoodSAM Responders in the community to help grow the existing pool of 2200 registered responders.

How you can help:
* Any organisation or individual looking to learn CPR can apply for one of St John's free '3 steps for life' courses by emailing
* For full first aid training, register at
* CPR trained members of the public should register as a GoodSAM Responder at