I felt like I had been hit by a truck.
That's how Aaron Watt describes a massive heart attack last weekend at Taupō's Spa Park.
Aaron, who was at the park playing disc golf in the Taupō Classic, says he would have been dead if it weren't for the quick actions of highly-trained Taupō intensive care paramedic Jonathan King who just happened to be on the course.
"I was incredibly lucky to have a person on hand who knew what to do and took control of the situation," said Aaron.
The 48-year-old junior barrister from Henderson, Auckland, and father of two said the heart attack came completely out of the blue.
Walking around the course with his young son and a friend from Wanaka who was a contestant in the Taupō Classic, Jonathan was able to attend to Aaron within two minutes of the heart attack.
"My mate called and said a guy had collapsed. I could see he was presenting as a heart attack. He was very sick," said Jonathan.
There were lots of people around, and Jonathan said it was tough not having his St John New Zealand uniform.
"I had to establish [to others] that I was the one to sort this out."
Initially, Jonathan focused on helping Aaron not to panic by reassuring him and being calm.
Aaron said Jonathan did a very good job of calming him down. Lying on the ground and in incredible pain,
Aaron remembers the supportive presence of people from the golf disc community. Jonathan confirmed the other people at the scene were very helpful.
By the time the ambulance crew arrived, Jonathan had managed to ask Aaron a few questions to make sure it wasn't an existing injury that was causing distress.
"His heart was going slowly. We needed to call another ambulance with clot-busting drugs that cost $7000 to speed up his heart, as he was about to die."
There is a process to issuing these drugs, and Jonathan said firstly it must be declared that the patient is suffering a heart attack, and then secondly a rescue helicopter is called.
"Medically we live in a remote area. You don't want to be in Taupō if you go into cardiac arrest," said Jonathan.
Jonathan is a senior officer at the Taupō St John Ambulance station, and he said for the sake of ease, speed and accuracy, he continued to lead the job until the helicopter arrived.
The ambulance team continued to try to stabilise Aaron, "but he was very unstable and very sick and he needed to get going to hospital".
St John territory manager George Clicquot said he was super proud of what Jonathan and the other ambulance crew achieved. He said for ambulance staff to be able to carry out pre-hospital thrombolysis (dissolving dangerous blood clots) was quite innovative on the world stage.
"We thrombolysis the patient in the field and it makes a difference in the patient's life," said George.
Picked up by the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter, Aaron went into cardiac arrest five minutes away from Waikato Hospital.
"I was communicating that my chest pain was increasing. Then there was a grey screen. The onboard paramedic had to get permission from the pilot to jump start me," said Aaron.
Upon arrival at Waikato Hospital Aaron was rushed into surgery and had two stents inserted into his heart.
Aaron was discharged from hospital last Monday night and says he would like to thank all the medical staff who helped him. He will be resting at home for the next couple of weeks.
"I feel incredibly lucky. If I had been anywhere else, it could have gone a different way."
Aaron says he has a poor family history with heart conditions, but his lifestyle also needs to change a little.
Solo father to a 9-year-old daughter and also dad to a 12-year-old son, Aaron says he has two very good reasons to establish an improved work-life balance.
Aaron says he will always remember Jonathan and his blue eyes looking down on him while he was being cared for.
"I'm glad he was there. There are a long list of people I would like to thank, all the ambulance staff, the pilot, the surgeon, the orderlies at the hospital."
A goal is to come back to Taupō next year, to finish the disc golf Taupō Classic tournament.
"I'm sort of obsessed with it."
Aaron said he wanted to publicly acknowledge the actions of all those involved in saving his life and said in the future he would be active in promoting men's health, St John, and disc golf.