Hands on hearts crucial to restarting them

Noreen Hegarty |

St John knows that bystanders having the confidence to take action when a person is in cardiac arrest can be the difference between a life saved or a life lost. Early intervention can increase a person’s survivability by more than 50 per cent.

Monday, October 16 is Restart a Heart Day which is supported by St John and colleagues in Fire Emergency New Zealand, the Heart Foundation and Wellington Free Ambulance.

The Restart A Heart Day campaign, initiated by the European Resuscitation Council in 2013, was established to stem the international death toll from sudden cardiac arrest – estimated to be more than three million people every year.

It’s widely accepted that the survival of many apparently healthy victims of sudden cardiac arrest, depends on CPR administered by bystanders in conjunction with early defibrillation.

Intervention within three to four minutes can increase the chance of patient survival by up to 50 per cent. [See patient story – Would-be passers-by key to doctor’s healthy heart]

A European Parliament declaration in 2012 called for several initiatives, including programmes to introduce automated external defibrillators (AED) in public places and the training of people in the community; changes in legislation to encourage CPR and defibrillation by non-medical people and the set-up of a European cardiac arrest awareness week.

Restart A Heart Day blends these aspirations with the aims of the Global Resuscitation Alliance (GRA) campaign of community engagement, to help save lives around the world.

The Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA), of which St John is a member, is committed to supporting Restart A Heart Day across Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Craig Ellis, St John Deputy Medical Director, says international survival rates for those who suffer a cardiac arrest in the community can vary from four per cent to 20 per cent.

“About 2,000 people in New Zealand suffer a cardiac arrest at home, at work or elsewhere in the community every year. If bystanders can start the resuscitation process through CPR and by using an automated external defibrillator (AED) within the first few minutes, the chances of patient survival to hospital are greatly improved.”

St John will participate in this year’s Restart a Heart Day events alongside colleagues in Fire Emergency New Zealand FENZ), the Heart Foundation and Wellington Free Ambulance (WFA). Details of the event locations and timetables can be found at – www.restartaheart.co.nz

To view this years Restart a Heart Day video click here.

Heart Foundation Medical Director and cardiologist Gerry Devlin says Restart A Heart Day is an important public awareness campaign.

“Time and time again, I come across people who have been saved by a loved one or bystander following a cardiac arrest. This rapid response has literally been the difference between life and death and emphasises the importance of all New Zealanders knowing how to perform CPR and having wider access to AEDs. The Heart Foundation is a big supporter of Restart a Heart Day and initiatives like it.”

Things to know:

  • Only one in 10 people survive a cardiac arrest;
  •  If you believe someone has suffered a cardiac arrest – they are unresponsive:

1. Call 111 – follow the call-taker’s instructions

2. Pump – link hands, push hard and fast

3. Shock – use an AED to shock the person’s heart beat back to life;

  • A cardiac arrest means a person’s heart has stopped beating – they are lifeless;
  • A heart attack is NOT a cardiac arrest – a heart attack happens when the blood flow to the heart is blocked;

Almost anyone can help save the life of someone who has experienced a cardiac arrest by acting quickly to restore the heart beat with CPR and defibrillation:

Head to one of these venues to watch and participate in live demonstrations and find out how you can help save a life:


Westfield Manukau 3pm – 4.30pm


Midland Park 12pm – 2pm

Wairarapa Town Square 12pm – 2pm

Kapiti Coastlands Shopping Mall 3pm – 5pm

Lower Hutt Queensgate Mall 3pm – 5pm


South City Mall 3pm – 4.30pm

  • Share the Restart A Heart Day messages on your social media networks using #restartaheart



Noreen Hegarty
St John Media & Public Relations Manager
T 09 526 0528 I X 8095 I M 027 809 2058
E Noreen.hegarty@stjohn.org.nz

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