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CPR Saved my Life: Donnie and Janice's Story

Because of their training as co-responders Janice said she felt they had a “magic cloak of safety, that a medical emergency won’t happen to you”.

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Rongotea Volunteer Fire Fighters and husband and wife team, Janice and Donnie, are well equipped with the lifesaving skills required to respond in a medical emergency. Rongotea is a tight knit community based in rural Manawatu with a population of just over 600 people.

Donnie, a mechanic by trade, has volunteered for the Rongotea Fire Brigade since 1976, working his way up through the ranks to Station Chief. Janice, having raised 6 children, joined the brigade 2 years ago to give back to her community. They both have attended their fair share of medical call outs.

Because of their training as co-responders Janice said she felt they had a “magic cloak of safety, that a medical emergency won’t happen to you”.

Janice recalls the evening of Friday May 28 2021 in great detail. Donnie was sitting on the couch, scrolling through his phone. She was playing with their new kitten when she heard Donnie making a choking/snoring noise. “I shook him and I thought he was having me on at first, he was still holding his phone with his eyes open. But then I recognised something serious was happening”.

Donnie was in cardiac arrest.

A cardiac arrest is an electrical storm on the heart which causes it to stop. This is different to a heart attack, which is a circulation problem blocking blood flow. A cardiac arrest is sudden, and extremely fatal with a survival rate of only 13%.

Janice credits her CPR training for Donnie’s survival. “My training just kicked in. I switched from Janice the wife to Janice the co-responder.”

She dialled 111, pulled Donnie onto the ground and began CPR. In a rural community like Rongotea the closest ambulance is 20 minutes away.

Janice performed CPR on Donnie for close to 5 minutes. She said she felt like it was much longer. The act of CPR is physically demanding. Knowing that this was the only way to save Donnie’s life kept Janice going.

She explained the extreme relief when she heard sirens, knowing her team was coming to help.

In 2021 the Rongotea volunteer fire brigade has attended 3 sudden cardiac arrests including Donnie’s. In New Zealand 2000 people per year have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest only 1 in 10 will survive.

Both Janice and Donnie described the difficulty of attending medical call outs when there is a bad outcome.

The Rongotea Volunteer Fire Brigade is a dedicated and close knit team with 18 current members. The majority of which have been involved from anywhere between 10 to 50 years.

Donnie received one shock from an AED administered by the Rongotea Brigade, which combined with high quality CPR from his brigade and his wife saved his life.

Donnie was transported by St John Ambulance to Palmerston North Hospital and remarkably was awake and responsive within 4 hours.

He was later transferred to Wellington to have an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD) installed in his chest. The ICD detects if Donnie has another abnormal heart rhythm and will administer a shock if he ever goes into cardiac arrest again.

Donnie was back at home within 7 days.

He surprised his doctors with his quick recovery, but joked that Janice was “a bit hard with her compressions.”

Two weeks after his cardiac arrest Donnie celebrated his 68th birthday with his family.

Janice and Donnie have shared their story in the hope that if they inspire 1 person to get CPR training it would be worth it.

“You might think you know how to do CPR from TV or Movies but it’s the formal training and understanding the DRS ABCD sequence that gives people the best chance of survival.”

Thank you Janice and Donnie for sharing your story with us. 



CPR Saved my Life: Only 13% of people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Quick action from her parents saves 20 year old’s life

16 October is World Restart a Heart Day, a global initiative to save lives through bystander CPR and defibrillation


A 20-year-old is not usually someone you would associate with a cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time without warning. Em Seyb and her parents, Roger Seyb and Karyn Sinclair, discovered this on the evening of 2 November 2020 when they saved Em’s life with their fast response. Em and her family are sharing their story as part of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council’s World Restart a Heart Day Campaign. 

Em is a Massey University student studying a Bachelor of Communications, and in 2020 was enjoying student life working as a Residential Assistant.

Em was visiting her parents in Auckland and sitting with her mum Karyn on the couch watching the evening news while dad Roger was in the kitchen cooking dinner. “Em dropped her phone but when she didn’t move to pick it up it alerted me to something going on” Karyn remembers.

Em had gone into a cardiac arrest. Her cardiologist explained the event to her family as an electrical storm on the heart which causes it to stop. This is different to a heart attack, which is a circulation problem blocking blood flow. A cardiac arrest is sudden and extremely fatal with a survival rate of only 13%.  

Karyn called for Roger to help, at this time Karyn decided that she should call 111. Roger noted that he thought about starting CPR but found it difficult to make the decision to begin. He explains “the call taker was amazing, he was so calm and reassuring, he asked me to hold the phone next to Em’s face to hear her breathing. He told me to start CPR, and talked me through the entire CPR process.” Em was not breathing normally, so Roger was instructed to begin CPR.

This quick action from her parents saved Em’s life. Without CPR or a Defibrillator (AED), someone in cardiac arrest is 10% - 15% less likely to survive with each passing minute.

Help arrived quickly. From the start of the 111 call to the co-response arrival from Fire and Emergency and St John Ambulance staff, was about 7 minutes. Emergency Services took over CPR and Em received 2 shocks from an AED to restart her heart.

Em’s story is an example of the Chain of Survival operating perfectly to save lives. Through early recognition and calling 111, starting CPR and getting a defibrillator (AED) quickly, survival rates can be increased from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. This process can be remembered as Call Push Shock. Roger commented that he thought about CPR but the hardest choice was making the decision to start. Karyn added that she wanted people to know that “you aren’t over exaggerating when calling 111.” A quick response saves lives.

The New Zealand Resuscitation Council encourages all people to refresh or learn CPR and find out where the closest AED is to their work and home through the AED Locations app or website.

A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time and lives are saved when people know what to do.  

Em’s memories in the weeks before and following the cardiac arrest are a bit patchy, and she must rely on her family to fill in a few of the gaps.

Em is passionate to raise awareness about recognising a cardiac arrest, and how it’s completely different to a heart attack “people ask me if I had a heart attack and I have to explain that a cardiac arrest is different which surprises people.” She also admitted that she didn’t know what a cardiac arrest was before she had one. Em became very aware to check where the closest AED’s are to key locations such as work and home after her cardiac arrest.

The 16th of October is World Restart a Heart Day which is a global initiative promoted in 194 countries to improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates through bystander CPR and public access defibrillation. AED’s are compact extremely safe and simple to use, they instruct the rescuer when to start CPR and guides the rescuer through the CPR steps. AED’s can increase the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest by up to 80%.

Em spent 13 days in Auckland Hospital, the first 36 hours were in an induced coma. When talking about her hospital stay, Em remembers that she was the youngest person on the cardiac ward, so enjoyed chatting to the nurses that were around her age. Because of her patchy memory Em couldn’t remember her trip to Auckland so thought she was still in Wellington. When Em woke up from the coma, she remembers being confused about how much time had passed, and asking to see her partner, Izzy, who had travelled up from Wellington the morning after Em’s arrest.

Em had an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD) installed in her chest. Her doctors were unable to find the cause of the cardiac arrest. Em’s parents said the ICD provides some peace of mind “The cardiologist told Em that the device was installed so she could live her life and not be wrapped in cotton wool”. The ICD detects if Em has another abnormal heart rhythm and will administer a shock if she ever goes into cardiac arrest again.

Just 3 weeks after her cardiac arrest, Em was back in Wellington with Izzy, attending friends 21st birthday parties and moving into a new flat.

Thank you to Em, Karyn, and Roger for bravely sharing their story.


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“It’s the greatest gift to save a life”

Five days before Christmas, Kathleen Morris watched her husband suffer from a cardiac arrest. She spent the next 10 minutes performing life-saving CPR. Her message to everyone is simple: be prepared by taking a first aid course. 

On Sunday 20 December 2020, New Zealand Red Cross’ First Aid Administrator, Kathleen Morris, woke up early and sat on her deck to enjoy her morning coffee. Her husband Merv, who had gone for a walk earlier that morning, came back and joined her on the deck with his breakfast in hand. Then, the unexpected happened.

“He was sitting in a chair next to me and, within moments, he just lunged off his chair. I ran towards him, calling his name then, put him into the stable side position, and went to grab the phone,” recalls Kathleen.

As soon as the operator answered the phone, Kathleen started CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Kathleen has been working for New Zealand Red Cross in Dunedin for the past nine years. She has gone through her share of first aid courses, yet this was the first time she had to use her training.

“I remember thinking, ‘oh am I doing this correctly?’ On the mannequin, you hear the 'click', 'click', but on a person, you don’t.”

“I did CPR on Merv for 10 minutes before the emergency services arrived. They came in, we were on the deck so we cleared some chairs and [they went] straight in with the defibrillator, seven shocks with CPR in between,” says Kathleen.

Merv suffered a cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. This is not the same as a heart attack.

Through her experience, Kathleen has a simple message to everyone: be prepared by taking a first aid course.

“Everyone should be doing a first aid course at some point. It builds your confidence to jump in and start when you have to,” says Kathleen.

Thank you to Kathleen and Merv for sharing their story 

For the full story you can find it here:

Story originally posted by New Zealand Red Cross 

The Future is Shocking Seminar 

October 15th 2021 12pm-3pm NZST

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We are pleased to announce our next  Aus-ROC, Australian Resuscitation Council and New Zealand Resuscitation Council Early Career Researcher Seminar. We have a stellar line-up of international speakers and look forward to the opportunity to hear from our rising star researchers.

This seminar can be used as Professional Development  for NZ Resuscitation Council CORE and NLS Instructors.

We are calling for early career researchers forAbstract Submissions for the seminar. Abstracts must be on resuscitation or first aid related topics. Please note: Presenting author must be a current student, PhD candidate or early career researcher within 7 years of PhD.
Abstract submission closes Monday, 20th September 2021.
Late abstracts will not be considered.

Click on links for:

Resus 2021 Program


Abstract submission


Dr Richard Aickin Awarded Resuscitation’s Highest Honour

 15 July 2021

Pictured: Dr Richard Aickin, Past Chair, New Zealand Resuscitation Council and Dr Tony Scott, Chair, New Zealand Resuscitation Council

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New Zealand’s highest honour for contributions to resuscitation and first aid was awarded to Dr Richard Aickin this week.

The Sir David Hay Medal is reserved for those who have made an outstanding or lifelong contribution to resuscitation and emergency care in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The Sir David Hay Medal has only been awarded five times since 1999, which is a testament to the calibre of the award. Past recipients are Dr Peter Leslie, Dr Duncan Galletly, Dr Shirley Tonkin and Dr Andy Swain.

Dr Aickin who recently retired from his role as chair of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council after 12 years noted the significance he felt in receiving this award as it had been awarded so few times. Dr Aickin has been involved in the council since 1997.

With his vast knowledge and expertise Dr Aickin has held numerous chair positions nationally, with the Paediatric Networks but also across Australasia in his role as chair of the Australian and New Zealand Committee on Resuscitation (ANZCOR). During this time Dr Aickin has overseen significant changes in resuscitation and first aid treatment guidelines. This work has improved outcomes for countless numbers of Australians and New Zealanders in medical emergencies.

On a global stage, Dr Aickin has held multiple roles within the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). His contribution to ILCOR in the various chair and co-chair roles has placed New Zealand on the world stage in dictating evidence-based resuscitation practice.

Dr Aickin was nominated by his peers for the Sir David Hay Medal. The nomination noted his measured, efficient and unflappable approach, both in his clinical roles and his various leadership positions including his time as the Clinical Director of Starship Hospital.

Dr Aickin in the 1990’s was appointed to establish and direct the Paediatric Emergency Care department at Starship. The formation of the Starship paediatric emergency care department is seen by many as the beginning of this discipline in New Zealand, and has changed and saved many children’s lives through its specialist work.

Dr Aickin’s influence on the medical fraternity of New Zealand is profound and long lasting, he is more than deserving of resuscitation’s highest honour.

Ensuring and Improving Quality 

 30 June 2021

The New Zealand Resuscitation Council operates a continuous quality control process across all teaching programmes to ensure a standard and identify areas where the delivery of our courses can be improved.

We have also recently started a mentorship programme trial. For those provider centres requiring additional support for new or less experienced Course Directors, we will appoint a remote faculty member to support the local team. 

Following a provider course we receive information from the Course Director – the learner participant sheet and the learner feedback forms. For learner feedback we use a Linkert Scale as it is an accepted method of collecting responses and is generally thought to be easy to understand. This method is also fairly easy to apply some form of mathematical analysis. Respondents have more options than simple yes or no answers and they also have a neutral option thus avoiding forcing a strong position. We have chosen a 5-point scale to reduce time, complexity and overwhelming the respondent.

We cannot eliminate the risk of respondents being influenced by their previous answer and it is common for concentration to the extremes. There is also a significant number of respondents who will avoid the extremes, even those with strong conviction. 

All of the data gathered is entered into a database. We do not adjust the data before entering it and take all responses in good faith. We do accept that there will be margins of error on the part of learners and this is impossible to eliminate. By aggregating data over time we identify trends and avoid the interpretation extremes created by just one individual response.  We further mitigate the risk of individual learner error of interpretation of the form by continuing to use a hard copy format thereby ensuring a high rate of return (approx. 95%) vs an online format which lowers return to approximately 35%. A weighted average is applied to the results, with the lowest weighting applied to the extreme negative results. 

Most of the feedback that we receive is positive and we provide a summary of the results to individual Course Directors every three months for CORE Advanced and every 6 months for NLS. We will also start reporting back on CORE Immediate.

Should there be any concerns regarding course content or administration, in most instances, we will contact the course director, remind them of requirements and our conduct expectations for future courses, and offer any support that may be required.  

Where more significant quality concerns are identified, learners on a course will be asked to complete a follow up online survey. The course director may also be asked to provide a report or provide further clarification regarding events on the provider course. Most concerns are resolved at this level. 

Where there are major concerns regarding the delivery and conduct of a provider course we will initiate a moderation process. This is a formal review of the delivery of a course. In addition to the course director’s report we may ask specific questions. Initial reports are reviewed by Council staff and then a peer review is undertaken by Training Advisors who are members of the instructor course faculty. A site visit may be arranged to the provider centre and course delivery observed. The review team use predetermined criteria to report on the course and will make recommendations to the course provider. Currently the NZ Resuscitation Council meets the cost of this moderation process.

Looking forward, a review may occur randomly and we hope to be able to make moderation criteria available to provider centers to enable them to self moderate their own systems. There will also be the opportunity for course providers to request a review or moderation of their delivery as an independent external audit. This service would be at the expense of the course provider. 

Quality reports are anonymised and tabled at Executive and Council meetings on a regular basis. They also inform the NZ Resuscitation Council’s Annual Performance Report.


Sir David Hay Medal Awarded to Dr Andy Swain

 26 November 2020

Pictured: Dr Andy Swain Left, Dr Richard Aickin Chair NZ Resuscitation Council

Dr Andy Swain left and Dr Richard Aickin

The Sir David Hay Medal was awarded for only the fourth time in 21 years this week. The Sir David Hay Medal is the top award for resuscitation and first aid and is reserved for those who have made an outstanding or lifelong contribution to resuscitation and emergency care in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Medal is awarded at the discretion of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council and nominated by the resuscitation and emergency care fraternity. The Sir David Hay Medal has only been awarded 4 times since 1999 which is a testament to the calibre of the award. Past recipients are Dr Peter Leslie, Dr Duncan Galletly and Dr Shirley Tonkin

The Sir David Hay Medal was presented to Dr Andy Swain at a New Zealand Resuscitation Council Function on Monday 23 November in Wellington. The Chairperson of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council, Dr Richard Aickin said that Dr Swain is a “stalwart of the resuscitation community and his influence has gone far beyond New Zealand, this award is richly deserved”. Dr Swain has passionately supported education of health professional and rescuers to improve outcomes from cardiac arrests, his dedication to his work has seen Wellington Free Ambulance have one of the best survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrests in the world.

With Aotearoa being his adopted home since 1999, the contribution that Dr Swain has made to resuscitation and emergency care in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom has been indeed outstanding and deserving of this award. Dr Swain was awarded a prestigious honorary membership of the Resuscitation Council of the United Kingdom in 2018. Dr Andy Swain is Medical Director of Wellington Free Ambulance, Associate Professor in Paramedicine at AUT, was a Clinical Lecturer in Emergency Medicine at the University of Otago Wellington until 2018, and Clinical Director of Wellington Helicopter Emergency Medical Service. Andy has been involved with ambulance services since 1985 and he led the development of community paramedicine and flight paramedicine in the Greater Wellington Region

In his acceptance speech Dr Swain spoke to what he hoped to leave as his legacy. Dr Swain has worked to impart his knowledge and passion of emergency care to future medical professionals and continues to publish and drive research on resuscitation and cardiac arrests. Dr Swain has also worked to create a National Emergency Medical Service Database which doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. “The journey continues, I am extremely honoured to receive this award, it will have pride of place in my CV, this award will mean more to me than almost anything else on my CV.”

CORE Training – From Practice Scenarios to Saving Lives

5 July 2019


A Hamilton nurse is thankful for her CORE training, after saving a life on her first ever GoodSAM callout – and then doing two more in the same week.

Megan Stowers (30), mother of two who works in critical care, urges other New Zealanders to download the GoodSAM app and make sure their CPR skills are up to scratch.

Her hectic week began on a Monday morning, when as she was getting her kids ready for school a loud siren sound suddenly blared from her phone.

“Instantly my adrenaline kicked in, and I was like what the heck.”

She told her husband the app had informed her someone nearby was having a cardiac arrest, and asked if he could take over getting the kids to school. 

“I was literally in my ugg boots, I’d just had a shower, my hair was dripping wet, and he just said yep, go.”

Megan prioritised getting to the scene as quickly as possible over taking a detour to the medical centre in search of a defibrillator.

The incident was only a few blocks away from her house, so she made it there in good time.

Racing to the door, she knocked on the front door. There was no response, but peering through the door’s stained glass windows she noticed the back door was open. 

Taking off at a run, she dashed round the corner and encountered a new obstacle – a chicken wire fence.

With a life at stake and not a second to lose, Megan launched herself into the air as high as she could and toward the backyard.

“I did not clear it,” she laughs.

“I demolished the fence to the ground. The guys who live there say they can’t wait to rewatch the footage from their security cameras.”

Back on her feet and dusting herself off, Megan composed herself, entered the house and saw a boy in his high school uniform standing in the hallway.

She introduced herself as a first responder, and asked him if somebody in the house needs help. 

“The relief on his face was so clear,” she says.

“He said it’s my Mum, she needs your help.”

After the boy told Megan his mother was in the bathroom, she told him to wait outside on the road until an ambulance arrived and help them find her.

This drama was unfolding to the backdrop of an otherwise normal morning. Two schoolfriends arrived and joined the boy on the road as he waited, and word began to spread around the neighbourhood. 

Megan made her way to the bathroom, where she found a woman collapsed and her husband trying to put her in the recovery position.

“I just switched into emergency mode, and I went to help,” she says.

The husband told Megan his wife had a seizure and fell off the toilet onto the tiled bathroom floor, in a narrow ensuite. He had already performed some CPR.

The woman arrested again shortly after Megan arrived. Flipping the patient onto her back, Megan maintained an airway and did about four chest compressions before the woman groaned, vomited and became responsive.

A positive development – but the crisis was far from over.

“She was blue like I’d never seen before,” Megan says.

“Blue like a smurf, and she was getting duskier and duskier.”

The woman opened her eyes and began complaining she couldn’t breathe. Megan focused from this point on maintaining the airway, reassuring the patient she was doing well and help would arrive soon.

Megan’s phone issued an alert to notify her the ambulance had arrived. The ambulance officer, who Megan knew from previous years spent working in ambulances herself, entered the house and reacted with surprise to see Megan there already.

“She asked me how I know these people, and I said I don’t! I’ve come from the GoodSAM thing,” laughs Megan.

The ambulance officer was more than happy to have help on the scene. Once it became apparent matters were not going to improve, the woman was stretchered out into the ambulance.

Training makes a difference

Megan believes her recent participation in a NZ Resuscitation Council CORE Immediate class helped her remain calm under pressure, and gave her confidence in up to date skills. 

“It helped so much. Every time it helps,” she says.

“You walk out of that class almost wanting someone to arrest so you can practice what you’ve learned. That’s how awesome it is.”

While she enjoys critical thinking in her work, she notes that a lot of people – even experienced nurses – sometimes get nervous about doing practice scenarios in front of other people. 

“It can be a bit scary, but that actually prepares you for the real thing,” she says. 

“Everybody is awkward at first about volunteering for the group stuff, but they put you in that position so strategically and so well that you just do it. The courses help! Whether it’s basic or advanced training, it really helps with your confidence and your capability.”

Megan has years of experience as an emergency nurse and with the ambulance service before that, and she says the CORE courses are valuable for people of all experience levels.

“You get to practice what you would do, and it’s like oh I do know some stuff, but I learned this new angle about it,” she says.

 “Even if there’s stuff you don’t do so well in the practice scenarios, you talk about what happened and it turns into a positive.”

Megan encourages any health administrator considering how best to upskill their workforce to contact the NZ Resuscitation Council and discuss how the CORE programme is relevant to them. 

“They’re awesome. Even when they’re scary they’re so good. Practical, example based learning – there’s nothing better.”

It feels good to help 

Megan went to work at Hamilton Hospital later that day, though not before helping her husband get the kids to kōhanga.

She had the opportunity to meet the patient and her family later in the week, where she was warmly and tearfully received.

There was more to come! Two further callouts that week saw Megan arriving alongside or shortly after emergency services.

Her intervention wasn’t crucial in these cases, but still serves as evidence that the GoodSAM app is ensuring trained rescuers are on site to help when needed. 

She says the whole experience was deeply rewarding, and encourages health sector colleagues to download and activate the GoodSAM app.

While recognising that the job is already demanding, she says it feels good to give back to the community and a balance can be struck between volunteering outside of work hours and meeting the requirements of family life. 

“It was a crazy week, but it was so good and so worth it being able to help these people. With that first lady, if I hadn’t been there she’d probably have died. It feels amazing to know I was able to help keep that beautiful family together.”


2018 Round Up: Resuscitation good news stories

30 November 2018

Resuscitation is always a serious topic, but it can also be a positive one. There have been many stories this year of people surviving heart attacks or cardiac arrests, and community awareness of defibrillation and bystander CPR continues to grow.

Below are some of the best stories we thought are worth highlighting. Let us know if there are others you want to suggest!

Auckland indoor football player Josh Margetts collapsed from a heart attack during training.

It came as a surprise. As his team mate Kareem Osman notes, “you don’t expect a fit 24 year old to go down like that.”

Luckily, Osman is also a registered doctor and knew what to do. Find out what happened next at Newshub.

In other news, Max Montgomery and Andi Traynor were at the beach in Santa Cruz, California, on their first date.

Montgomery, 56, suffered a heart attack, and Traynor performed CPR — their first kiss helping to save his life.

Check out this video of the happy couple talking about the scary moment that eventually led to their romance.

Fast forward to October, and Auckland Mum Lea Tainui was watching her son play softball.

17 year old Oliver suddenly collapsed, suffering a cardiac arrest during his team’s first game of the season.

Umpire Tamati Montgomery saved Oliver by performing CPR until St John ambulance arrived, and paramedics took over with a defibrillator.

Read more on Stuff about the lessons taken to heart by those involved.

Shortly after this, GoodSAM received a welcome profile boost with the story of Brett Palmer.

His heart stopped beating for 14 minutes when he collapsed on a grass berm during his morning walk in Cambridge. 

Local electrician and off-duty St John volunteer Ash Hammond was notified by the app of Mr Palmer’s distress, and raced to the scene.

Joined soon by an ambulance team, they succefully saved Mr Palmer’s life; read on here to learn more about the story.

World Restart a Heart Day received perhaps it’s single greatest publicity boost with a fantastic segment on Duncan Garner’s show.

He interviewed a mother, her son, and her friend, about their experience when the little boy collapsed.

Watch the video here; it’s a great example of bystander CPR in action, and it’s great to know the public were given such good advice about what to do.

Finally, the recently published story of George Scott is a testament to the great work being done by first responders in New Zealand.

Scott suffered a cardiac arrest while driving, causing his car to veer off the road, through a fence and into a paddock. 

36 year old Aran Fairley was driving a few vehicles behind, and sprang into action. 

Using bolt cutters to remove the number 8 wire entangled around Scott’s car, a group of nearby motorists rescued him from the vehicle.

Fairley had learned CPR, and immediately began to perform compressions and rescue breaths before the Fire Brigade turned up. Scott made what was described as a “miraculous” recovery.

It’s great to know people are out there making a difference; no doubt there will be more success stories to come before the year is finished.

Teaching CPR - Compressions and Breaths

30 November 2018

Kevin Nation, Chief Executive, NZRC

With help from Alastair Reith, Communications and Engagement Advisor, NZRC

There is no doubt quality CPR for those in cardiac arrest improves the likelihood of good outcome.

When the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) reviewed the science of CPR in 2017, a number of key recommendations were made. There was agreement that bystanders should perform chest compressions for everyone in cardiac arrest, and those who are trained, able and willing to give rescue breaths should do so at a 30:2 ratio of compressions to breaths1.

ILCOR recognises there are some potential benefits to teaching compression-only CPR. It is simple to learn, and easy to direct someone to do. However, it must also be emphasised that there are significant potential benefits to combining compressions and ventilations for those in asphyxia arrest (commonly seen in infants and children), or in settings where ambulance response time is prolonged.

New Zealand Resuscitation Council (NZRC) guidelines for CPR in New Zealand reflect these scientific principles and values, but what does this mean for the messaging in formal training sessions?

Compression-only CPR is best seen as the first step in a series of resuscitation steps, and as a minimum standard for bystander involvement. It is often used in promotional material and campaigns because of its simplicity of teaching, and as a way to maximise bystander involvement.

Best practice is always determined in part by local context. New Zealand’s bystander participation rates (estimated at around 60%) are reportedly relatively high compared to other areas of the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do better.

New Zealand is an island nation, with a long coastline and strong cultural ties to the water. As the summer months roll in, many will be swimming, surfing or just taking their families to the beach to relax. The dark side of this pastime is a tragically high drowning rate – 92 preventable fatal drownings and 148 hospitalisations in 2017 alone2. There is clear scientific consensus that those who drown are likely to benefit from combining rescue breaths with chest compression, and an over-emphasis on compression-only CPR in public messaging risks confusion.

It is reasonable that promotional campaigns advocate simplicity. However, for formal training sessions, the NZRC believes teaching ventilations is important. Learners should have the opportunity to practice compressions and ventilations on manikins and receive formative feedback. The benefits of breaths to those in cardiac arrest outweigh the simplicity of teaching compressions alone.

It is easy for those training in conventional CPR to dissuade learners from giving rescue breaths. Statements in teaching such as “you don’t have to give the breaths if you don’t want to” or “the rescue breaths are not important” are discouraging. Learners should be encouraged and empowered to give combinations of compressions and breaths when they can, as the best thing they can do for those in need. If a bystander is unable to bring themselves to perform rescue breathing, they should be encouraged to at least do chest compressions.

The goal is to save lives and improve outcomes from cardiac arrest. Increasing bystander participation is a key strategy to achieving this. While any CPR is better than none, the NZRC would encourage those trained in CPR to strive to do what’s best for those they help.


  1. Olasveengen TM, de Caen AR, Mancini ME, Maconochie IK, Aickin R, Atkins DL, et al. . 2017 International consensus on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care science with treatment recommendations summary. Resuscitation (2017) 121:201–4
  2. Water Safety New Zealand, Drowning Prevention Report, 2017


Oceania Pacific Islands Map iStock

Introducing the South Pacific Resuscitation Certificate

1 November 2018

We are pleased to announce the development of a new resuscitation training option for our friends and colleagues in the Pacific Islands. Full course details can be found here.

The South Pacific Resuscitation Certificate can be conducted in the South Pacific region (outside New Zealand and Australia) by NZRC CORE Advanced instructors, using the guidelines set by the New Zealand Resuscitation Council. 

Certification is issued by the CORE Advanced instructor, and we’d expect that the content will be adapted for the local environment. South Pacific Resuscitation Certificate course material can be purchased through the NZRC office.

The New Zealand Resuscitation Council expects instructors will adapt the content of the South Pacific Resuscitation Certificate course to make it relevant to the skill level of learners and the resourcing available in the local environment. The New Zealand Resuscitation Council has not checked or verified the content, and cannot accept responsibility concerning the completeness of an individual course.

The New Zealand Resuscitation Council does not recognise the South Pacific Resuscitation Certificate as equivalent to CORE certification and individual registration bodies or employers should evaluate the content (acquired from the certifying instructor) for the purposes of professional or workplace credentialing.

This is an exciting new opportunity for the further development of training in the region and we invite the directors of these courses to report back on content and participant feedback.

We look forward to continuing strong ties between the New Zealand resuscitation community and our Pacific neighbours.

Update for NLS Instructors

31 October 2018

We are pleased to inform you that a newly designed NLS instructor certificate has been prepared, and will be issued to those who acknowledge the Code of Conduct.

In July 2017 the New Zealand Resuscitation Council approved a new Code of Conduct.  All New Zealand Resuscitation Council instructors are expected to uphold the code.  We ask all NLS instructors who have not already signed the code to do so now.  Once this has been done we will send you the new NLS instructor certificate.  Please click here to read and acknowledge the new code. 

For those who completed the instructor course prior to 2018 your new Instructor certificate will be dated 1 January 2018 to acknowledge that it’s this year you have signed the new code.

Just a reminder that in July 2019 we will be auditing NLS Instructors.  We want NLS Instructors to be teaching at least 3 courses between July 2018 and June 2019 and demonstrating networking and professional development.

We get the teaching information from the participant sheets the Course director completes and sends back to us within a week of the NLS provider course.

The participant sheets can be downloaded here.

For those that attended the NZRC conference this year we will have captured this as a professional development activity. If you have done something that meets the standards described here, you could send us that information now and we will update our records, otherwise we will be asking for this when we do the audit in July next year.

Remember too we are also keen to hear how the courses are going from your participants perspective. We will be sending you reports that let you know how you are going as a teacher but the  way we get this information is from the course feedback forms.  Please ensure you are using the most up-to-date colour feedback forms which are included in all NLS packs.

We only require the participant sheets and the feedback sheets to be returned to us.

NLS Instructor course dates for 2019 have been confirmed and are on our website  at

New ILCOR CoSTR Released

24 October 2018

A new CoSTR is available for review on the website of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation. It's title is Methods of Glucose Administration in First Aid for Hypoglycemia.

This CoSTR is a draft version prepared by ILCOR, with the purpose of allowing the public to comment. The comments will be considered by ILCOR. The next version will be labelled “draft" to comply with copyright rules of journals.

Please take a look, and we encourage you to offer your perspective.

Council celebrates 21 years of saving lives

9 March 2018

At its next conference, the New Zealand Resuscitation Council will mark 21 years of improving outcomes for New Zealanders in immediate need of life-saving treatment from emergencies such as cardiac arrest, choking and drowning. Read the full release or see the NZ Resus 2018 - Media Kit.

CONF NZRC Webheader v61 page 001 

Emergency Care Instructor Programme Review

9 February 2018

The New Zealand Resuscitation Council and The Skills Organisation share a vision that a person who collapses, or requires other first aid interventions, shall receive best practice treatment and care. We believe that by reviewing the Emergency Care Instructor programme, we can improve outcomes for people in need.

Find out more about the Emergency Care Instructor Programme Review.

Rachel Allan joins the NZ Resus teamRachel Allan

7 February 2018 

The New Zealand Resuscitation Council has welcomed Rachel Allan as its new Office Administrator. Her background includes working in not-for-profit health and social service organisations, most recently with the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association.

Rachel will be your first port of call when you contact the Council, and we're delighted to benefit from her extensive experience in support and office management roles. 

Kevin Nation named Chief Executive Kevin Nation

20 December 2017 

Kevin Nation has been appointed to the permanent role of Chief Executive of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council. This will take effect on 8 January 2018. Kevin has served the Council for more than ten years, more recently as Acting General Manager, and the Council is delighted to finally formalise Kevin’s role. Read more.... 

Restart a Heart Day 2017

12 October 2017

Restart a Heart Day 2017_IG

Monday 16 October is Restart a Heart Day, a worldwide day to raise public awareness about how to help improve survival from cardiac arrest before emergency services arrive. 

This year’s Restart a Heart Day sees New Zealand taking part for the first time, and the focus is on CPR and AEDs. New Zealand Resuscitation Council member organisations St John, Wellington Free Ambulance, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and the Heart Foundation are all supporting Restart a Heart Day, as is the Health Promotion Agency. Find out more.

Schools urged to plan for cardiac arrest

12 September 2017 AEDs in School fact sheet

The Ministry of Education and New Zealand Resuscitation Council have partnered to develop AEDs in schools, a guidance document for school boards and leaders.

AEDs in schools raises awareness that sudden cardiac arrest may happen to anyone, and it may occur on school grounds or during school activities. Schools are encouraged to prepare for such an emergency and consider the value of an onsite automated external defibrillator (AED). AEDs in schools poses questions such as ‘Should my school purchase an AED?’, ‘Do staff and students know how to do first aid, CPR and use an AED?’, and ‘Do we have a clear and simple plan to access the AED?’ Read more....