Despite the cardiac arrest that left Nicky with memory loss and a pacemaker, she’s thankful to come out of it with her life.
It all started when Nicky woke at 2 am with a sore arm. To be safe, she woke her husband, Nathan, and they rang Healthline to confirm everything was okay.
After going through an exhaustive checklist, nothing stood out as a major warning. But because there wouldn’t be much time to act if her sore arm was an early indicator of cardiac arrest, Healthline decided to call a nurse to ensure Nicky’s safety.
While waiting for the phone to ring, Nicky’s heart began to beat faster and faster… the major warning that was missing earlier.
Just as the nurse called back, and as they described the situation, Nicky fell forward, slouched over, and bit her tongue.
Nathan was terrified but kept his cool as the nurse provided expert advice over the phone, keeping Nicky alive until care arrived.
For 20 minutes, I gave Nicky chest compressions to keep her heart pumping,
With no time to spare, the ambulance arrived. The paramedics stabilised Nicky and performed tests with cardiologists from Wellington Hospital over the phone to determine the severity of the situation.
They quickly realised Nicky had a severe blockage, restricting blood flow to her brain. Without emergency surgery, there would be serious long-term effects. Nicky needed to be flown to Wellington Hospital.
Thanks to your kind support, Life Flight’s Westpac Chopper was prepared and airborne within 16 minutes. Pilot Anna remembers the night vividly as it was one of her first night missions as part of the Life Flight team. “The call-out came through – PURPLE, Status One, Carterton. That gets you up and moving very quickly,” says Anna.
On the ground Nathan was working with the Carterton Volunteer Fire Brigade to find the best landing site. “Missions to remote locations, particularly by night come with increased risk which we need to manage as a crew. The greatest of which is wires – difficult to see during the day, and near impossible by night, even with the aid of our night vision goggles,” explains Anna, “The ground support did an excellent job on this mission and radioed they had secured a safe landing site.”
Soon after their arrival, Nicky was onboard, and they departed via the South Coast – making the most of a tail wind to make sure Nicky got to Wellington Hospital as swiftly as possible. Within the hour of the callout, Nicky was safely in Wellington Hospital and being prepared for a four-hour surgery.
Nicky’s recovery was carefully monitored by medical staff and now, a few months later, Nicky is making the most of life – although the emergency has left her with less energy and some memory loss.
But every day she notices she’s stronger on her feet, and mentally sharper. Soon she hopes she’ll be back to full strength.
Nathan’s message to the generous supporters comes from the heart.
Thank you for your support, time or money; all those resources go to great use. You might not see it on the news, but every single day they’re out there saving someone.
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Pilot – AnnaBefore joining Life Flight in 2022, I worked in the Royal NZ Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority. These roles have given me a lot of passion for my job and a dedication to safety. It's special to dedicate those skills to the community now.