When Craig Merrick suddenly had a coronary artery dissection at work last September, a group of local tradies used the nearest AED to try and save his life.

Through these efforts and the application of the AED (automated external defibrillator), Merrick's family were able to have a week spent by his side in Wellington's ICU before his life support was switched off and he died.

"It was tragic but really, really important for everybody to have that grieving period."

Merrick's daughter Jhena Hawley said after her dad's passing they received a lot of support from friends, extended family and their Equippers Church community.


"We thought maybe we could set up an account people can donate money to go towards an AED," she said.

"It's life-altering, it has the potential to save lives but also bring back people."

Where to find a live saving defibrillator in Whanganui
New defibrillator for Whanganui East shopping centre thanks to generous business and community support
Community plea after second life-saving defibrillator stolen outside Devonport tennis club
Community spirit strong in Whangaehu, south of Whanganui, as school obtains new defibrillator

At Merrick's funeral, the family also asked that instead of gifting flowers, people had the option to donate money to a new AED for the Whanganui community.

"Once we had gathered the money, we purchased it from St Johns as it was important for us as they were first responders and they did a lot of the work to get him back."

Hawley and her family thought about where they should situate the new AED and looked on the AED locator app to find a suitable new spot for it.

"We looked at where there was a lack in the community, there's one at the Splash Centre, Sport Whanganui but there isn't really anything in this Springvale central hub with there being so many people here and with a doctors and a chemist we through it would be a good place to have it."

Hawley said placing the new AED outside Unichem Springvale with a plaque in honour of her dad is extra special as Springvale was her dad's community as he lived just around the corner from the pharmacy.


Co-owner of Unichem Springvale, Melina Holmes said all her staff are trained in first aid and in how to use the AED.

"If someone puts their head in the door and yells I need it we've got a plan in place for staff on how to do it."

Hawley said it is very simple to use and is completely voice-guided so anyone can use it.

There are instructions on the outside of the AED and once opened, instructions are read out loud and clear with a step-by-step guide on what to do.

Hawley said the AED is for multi-use purposes with a battery lasting up to four years.

She hopes people walking into the pharmacy or around the shopping centre and see the AED will be made aware it is there.

"This brings awareness for those people in times of trauma they will remember 'oh there's one down the road'."

Hawley encourages everyone to download the AED locator app to find out the locations of the nearest AEDs in their community.