Give the gift of learning how to save a life this Valentine’s Day

Louise Mukherji-Powell |

This Valentine’s Day, Hato Hone St John (HHSJ) and Wellington Free Ambulance are encouraging New Zealanders to give the gift of learning how to save a life.

New Zealand’s emergency ambulance services have published their latest Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) Reports, (which can be viewed here:, and they show that cardiac arrest survival rates have remained steady, following a two-year period of decline.

The reports, published by Hato Hone St John and Wellington Free Ambulance, cover all cardiac arrest incidents in the community attended by ambulance staff from both organisations from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023.

The daily number of people suffering a cardiac arrest out of hospital has increased from six people on average per day (2,348 total from 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022), to seven (2,458 total from 1 July 2022 – 30 June 2023). The latest reports also revealed only 23 percent survived to hospital arrival and 11 percent survived 30 days post cardiac arrest event.

Dr Damian Tomic, Hato Hone St John Deputy Chief Executive – Clinical Services, says this shows why it’s so important that more New Zealanders know how to administer CPR.

“We know that early CPR and application of an automated external defibrillator (AED), often referred to as a ‘heart-starter’, are crucial to survival when someone goes into cardiac arrest. Currently, 76 percent of cardiac arrests that happen out of hospitals are subject to bystander CPR. This is the same number as in our last report, and so for next year, we’d like to see that number increase – anyone can learn CPR at any age, and it doesn’t take long to learn either. Our report shows that community help can double the chances of survival.

“Given that we spend most of our time with loved ones, friends, or colleagues, it’s likely that if you see someone go into cardiac arrest it may be someone you know. It is empowering to know you can gain the skillset to do something to help.” Dr Tomic says.

“The best gift to give this Valentine's Day is by learning how to perform CPR and how to use an AED – and encouraging loved ones to do the same.

“Anyone confident in CPR can then sign up to GoodSAM, which is an app that alerts people when there is someone in cardiac arrest nearby, giving them the opportunity to respond, and possibly help save their life,” Dr Tomic concludes.

Dr Andy Swain, Medical Director Wellington Free Ambulance says,

“We know that time matters in a sudden cardiac arrest. An immediate call to 111 to get help on its way, starting CPR as soon as possible and using an AED all give the person having a cardiac arrest the best chance of survival possible. Wellington Free Ambulance is really proud to be able to offer our community the opportunity to learn how to save a life free of charge through The Lloyd Morrison Foundation Heartbeat CPR training programme. Thanks to Julie Nevett and The Lloyd Morrison Foundation, over 5,200 people learned CPR and how to use an AED last year through this programme.”

Pete Loveridge, Hato Hone St John Deputy Chief Executive – Community Health, encourages New Zealanders to learn more about their free programmes in communities – including 3 Steps for Life.

“As well as our free programmes, our Area Committees work hard with local partners to facilitate donations of AEDs to at-risk communities. These include parts of Aotearoa with higher numbers of Māori and Pacific Peoples, who are more likely to have a cardiac arrest and less likely to survive; and areas with higher numbers of elderly people.” Mr Loveridge says.

“Many of our wonderful volunteers and paid staff dedicate their time to reaching as many people as we can with our 3 Steps for Life programme which centres on the importance of calling 111 for an ambulance, starting CPR and using an AED when someone is in cardiac arrest. These three simple steps really can help to save whānau or someone in your community.”

One recent drive that saw 17,504 people across the motu trained in 3 Steps for Life was the organisation’s second annual Shocktober campaign delivered in October 2023. Co-ordinators from Hato Hone St John travelled the aptly named ‘Heartbeat Highway’, which covered the length and breadth of New Zealand, holding sessions in some of the country’s most rural areas.

Mr Loveridge adds, “We have to keep building on the success of campaigns like Shocktober, where we not only equipped so many thousands of people to help save a life in the event of a cardiac arrest, but also raised awareness of our programmes and built new partnerships along the way. Our cardiac arrest report numbers show how important it is to keep the momentum going, which is why we’d love it if you could give the gift of learning CPR this Valentine’s Day.”

For more information on how to sign up to a free 3 Steps for Life session in your area, visit Additionally, Hato Hone St John offer full first aid courses – find out more by visiting For more information on the GoodSAM programme, visit


Hato Hone St John media team
PH: 0800 756 334 | E:

Wellington Free Ambulance media team
PH: 021 348 571 and for more info visit 


  • Hato Hone St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90 percent of New Zealanders and covers 97 percent of the country’s geographical area. 
  • Hato Hone St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff.
  • Along with the emergency ambulance service, Hato Hone St John provides a significant number of community health programmes and initiatives which help build community resilience. They include Health Shuttles, Caring Caller, Friends of the Emergency Department, St John Youth, St John in Schools, and Therapy Pets.
  • Hato Hone St John also delivers event health services, medical alarm services, first aid training and operates retail stores across the country. 
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