One Tuakau man is very lucky to be alive, thanks to the dedication of his wife and emergency services. 47 year old David Seaman, had a cardiac arrest on Sunday 8 July at 8.30 pm.
His wife Pauline, did CPR for four and a half minutes before emergency services arrived and they continued for a total of 46 minutes. David, who doesn’t remember the event, is one fortunate man as there is only a ten per cent chance of survival from a cardiac arrest.
David and Pauline had spent the afternoon babysitting their five year old grandson Leo. Although David was unusually quiet that day, there were no real symptoms. They got home around 6pm and Leo was upstairs playing on the computer when Pauline found David lying in the spare bed.
“He got up and was disorientated and rubbing his chest,” Pauline said. “He went downstairs and I just had this instinct to follow. He was just rubbing his chest and said to me ‘I just feel sick!’ I pulled out my phone and googled symptoms of heart attack straightaway and then he just collapsed in front of me. He immediately went blue as he landed face first so I turned him over and then rang 111!”
CPR was then a reality and Pauline said to herself ‘suck it up! You’re all he’s got!’ The woman who took the 111 call, counted her through CPR. “It was the fight or flight instinct really! I love my husband and I just thought ‘this is bigger than me!’” She said, “You have to put your own emotions aside. I want people to know it doesn’t matter if it’s a loved one or not, you must attempt CPR!”
The Tuakau Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived first after four and half minutes. The first ambulance came around the ten minute mark, the second at 15 minutes and the third at 20 minutes. Pauline said, “Leo didn’t see David collapse and luckily didn’t know anything about it until I went upstairs and told him to stay put.” Their son, James Collier (26), rushed to the house to arrange care for Leo, so he could be with his parents at the hospital.
There was 46 minutes of CPR all together. “It was phenomenal! There would’ve been 15 people in our room taking turns at CPR and about 11 defibrillator shocks. It was an extraordinary event in the true sense of the word.” David got to hospital at about 10pm. “I really want people to appreciate and understand emergency services more,” said Pauline. “People complain about response times ambulances take, but if they’re not attending there’s probably a good reason why! They’re doing their best with the resources they have.
The life-threatening situations are where they need to be!” David was on 100 per cent support for 36 hours until they cleared the blockage and put a stent in. “It’s hard to understand why we don’t do more for nurses,” Pauline said. “They have people’s lives in their hands everyday! They’re making big decisions and working long hours. While David was in Auckland Hospital’s Cardiothoracic and Vascular Intensive Care Unit, it was one-on-one care with specialist nurses doing 12 hour shifts. Words can’t express how amazing every medical professional we encountered have been throughout this. David wouldn’t be here without them all. Many have said it is a miracle!”
Pauline said she’ll never really comprehend it. “I don’t see it as I saved his life. I was saving my life at the same time, David is my life. Our love was strong before this, but I appreciate David a whole lot more now. We’ve been married 13 years and together 16 years. We’re a small family but we love big.” She said she’ll never forget it. “The tears come when I think about that night but I allow myself to feel upset. It’s normal after a major event. David will never fully understand and I’m glad he can’t remember, I wouldn’t want him to! It’s your body’s way of protecting itself!”
David said, “Pauline was the first vital link in the chain. Although I am still coming to terms with it, I know how much I love her and that I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her strength to act fast and cope with the situation.”
Matt Wilson, officer in charge of the Tuakau Volunteer Fire Brigade on that night, said, “It’s amazing to be involved in a successful cardiac arrest task, where they can walk into the station and talk to you afterwards. It’s not just great for the crew that were there on the night, but I want to acknowledge all the crews across New Zealand that go to these events regularly and often don’t get the same results.”
The couple thank everyone involved, including the support from their family and friends, which all added to David’s speedy recovery.
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