Taupō woman Betty Rosanoski could hardly have chosen a better place to have a cardiac arrest.
She was already in the back of a St John ambulance when she unexpectedly had a massive heart attack.
Luckily she was only a metre away from the ambulance's AED - automated external defibrillator - a portable device which delivers an electric shock, known as defibrillation, to help restore the heart's natural rhythm.
The senior citizen, who lives alone, was at home on the morning of Wednesday, May 26 when she began feeling pain in the centre of her chest. As it continued, she decided to activate her St John alarm.
"It got worse and worse and worse and I was very reluctant to push the button on my [St John] alarm, but I did."
Betty got a call from St John and the call taker stayed on the line while they waited for the ambulance to arrive, with emergency medical technician Brendon Feck and paramedic Kate Shepherd aboard. By this stage Betty was in a lot of pain and vomiting. Brendon and Kate assessed her and then took her out to the ambulance.
The last thing Betty remembers is asking them to bring her handbag and front door key.
"I don't remember getting into the ambulance and that's when I nearly went up to the pearly gates."
Betty had gone into cardiac arrest and her heart had stopped. Brendon and Kate used CPR and the AED in the ambulance and the shock was enough to restart her heart.
The next event Betty recalls was opening her eyes in the ambulance.
"I always thought you saw a bright light, but they had shut the [pearly] gates before I got there."
She was then flown by the Greenlea rescue helicopter to Waikato Hospital where she had a stent inserted in her artery and was sent home two days later.
The next week she was well enough to go to the Taupō St John station to thank the paramedics.
"If it hadn't been for Brendon I wouldn't be here today so I went up and thanked them and they made a fuss of me and got photos and were delighted."
Betty also invited St John clinical support officer Peter Lockie to talk to Taupō's 60s-Up group about AEDs and the importance of knowing CPR.
While Betty was "a lucky lady" to have had her cardiac arrest with an AED so close by, for others it may be a matter of having people nearby who know what to do.
Peter says anybody can help restart a heart by following the three steps of Call, Push and Shock. They stand for calling 111 for help, doing CPR by using chest compressions and breathing, and using an AED where possible.
"CPR is really, really important. The brain relies on good circulation and oxygen and nutrients and if the heart stops, the quicker we can recognise that their heart has stopped pumping and take action, the better the chances of survival.
"You don't necessarily have to know how to do CPR, the call handlers on the phone will instruct the person how to do CPR, it's very simple and you don't need experience to be able to save a life."
Peter says AEDs are often located in businesses like banks and gyms, public places and council venues and they provide automatic voice instructions to the user. The free smartphone app AED Locations shows the nearest AED to a person's location. Another free app, GoodSam, alerts registered people in the vicinity who know CPR that their help is needed.
As for Betty, she's happy to still be around and enjoying life.
"I don't feel my age and I think it's because I've kept busy. I like people and I like organising and doing things and I don't sit around and mope and wait for God, I'm not in any hurry to go up and meet him."
Restart a Heart: three simple steps
1. Call - phone 111 immediately for help
2. Push - apply CPR by doing 30 chest compressions to two breaths, allowing the chest to fully recoil between compressions
3. Shock - use an AED
Useful apps: St John CPR Mobile App, AED Locations, GoodSam.