Just over a month ago Jason McIntyre suffered a massive heart attack while driving along Sunset Rd. Luckily for him, Simon Kirner, Selena Layne, Rohan Knowles, Jordan Retemeyer and Amelia Fleming just happened to be driving past. Journalist Kelly Makiha was there as McIntyre met the heroes who saved his life and had the chance to say thanks.
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Jason McIntyre firmly shook the hands of the people who saved his life and simply said "thank you so much".
McIntyre, 49, has come face-to-face with the group of strangers who "brought him back from the dead" just over a month ago on Sunset Rd when he suffered a massive heart attack while behind the wheel of his car.
Now out of hospital and back at work, McIntyre said given the luck he was dealt that day, it clearly was not his time to die.
The strangers who came across the scene swung into action and performed CPR, allowing an ambulance crew - who by chance happened to drive past - time to set up a defibrillator and shock him back into life.
Yesterday McIntyre and his wife of 27 years, Jackie, met the heroes - Rohan Knowles and Simon Kirner and St John staff Jordan Retemeyer and Amelia Fleming - for the first time since the heart attack on September 23. A fifth hero, Selena Layne, was unable to make the meeting.
When asked how he felt about the actions of the strangers, McIntyre was lost for words.
His emotions overcame him as tears filled his eyes and he simply said: "Unbelievable. Yeah, I am privileged to be here."
He said their ability to know what to do with CPR had inspired him and his wife to enrol in a St John first aid course next month.
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McIntyre was heading along Sunset Rd about 5.45pm when he remembered losing his vision. He thought he had stopped his car before everything went black.
"I remember thinking 'this isn't going to be good'."
Kirner and his girlfriend, off-duty nurse Layne, saw McIntyre's car crossing the centreline. Kirner thought he was a drunk driver and ran up to the car and ripped the keys out of the ignition, but with Layne's help they soon realised it was more serious.
Knowles arrived seconds later and the two men swung into action - the pair dragged McIntyre from his car, Kirner cut open his shirt and Knowles started CPR.
The stars aligned that afternoon as Retemeyer, who is a St John paramedic, and Fleming, a medical assistant, drove past in an ambulance on their way to hospital to transport another patient.
As the two men carried on with CPR, Retemeyer was able to set up the defibrillator and shocked McIntyre back to life. Fleming and Layne kept the patient in the ambulance calm while the other emergency unfolded.
Kirner said the defibrillator worked on McIntyre within seconds. "Boom - his eyes came to life".
The next thing McIntyre remembered was a bunch of strangers standing over him telling him he would be okay.
Jackie McIntyre, who has been with Jason since they were 15 and shares two daughters with him, hugged Retemeyer when she met him today and said "thank you so much for saving my boy's life".
"I don't even know how to put it into words. There are no words that can say thank you enough for what you guys did and the fact you took the actual time to just stop. My girls are just so grateful to you both and everyone who was involved."
Knowles said he had done a CPR course about a decade ago and he hoped someone else would do the same thing for him or his family if they were faced with the same situation.
"Knowing first aid isn't something you forget ... You have to back yourself."
McIntyre suffered two more heart attacks after the Sunset Rd incident. The second was about 4am the next day while in Rotorua Hospital and the third was a few hours later about 8am while he was in an ambulance being transported to Waikato Hospital.
For the third, he woke just as he was being shocked and remembered the feeling of the current going through his body.
"I must have woke up just as she was doing it and apparently the only word I said was the F word."
McIntyre said he suffered an angina attack 25 years ago and had an immediate quadruple bypass. He had not had any heart problems since but put the latest attack down to "sh***y family history".
After the latest attack, he spent two weeks in Waikato Hospital and now has an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator), which is basically a defibrillator device inside his body.
If his heart stops again, the device will shock his body hopefully restarting his heart.
"It's an amazing piece of machinery and does what a defib does. Saves me from having to wait around for all these guys to drive past again."
Do you know how to restart a heart?
Every year, cardiac arrest kills more New Zealanders than road accidents - a statistic
everyone can change, according to St John.
Death from cardiac arrest can happen to people of any age at any time, but the chance of survival can be greatly improved with bystander CPR and use of an AED (automated external defibrillator).
St John medical director Dr Tony Smith said every minute that went by without
CPR or defibrillation reduced the chance of survival by 10 to 15 per cent, with only 15 per cent surviving a cardiac arrest.
"This survival rate can be doubled by people taking three easy steps: Call 111 for an
ambulance, immediately start CPR and find and use the nearest AED," Smith said.
"Using an AED is simpler than using a mobile phone. Anyone can do it, just turn it on
and follow the voice instructions."