Amy Milne |

Hato Hone St John (HHSJ) and Wellington Free Ambulance are encouraging New Zealanders to show aroha this Valentine's Day by learning how to save a life.

The message comes off the back of the latest from New Zealand’s ambulance services Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Reports, which shows that cardiac arrest survival rates are down for the second consecutive year.

The reports, published by Hato Hone St John and Wellington Free Ambulance, cover all cardiac arrest incidents in the community attended by St John Ambulance or Wellington Free Ambulance from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

During this period, more than 2,000 people were treated for a cardiac arrest in the community, or around six people a day, with only 22 percent (550) surviving to hospital arrival and 11 percent (250) surviving 30 days post cardiac arrest event.

Dr Damian Tomic, HHSJ Chief Executive Clinical Services, says people can show aroha this Valentine's Day by learning themselves, or by encouraging their loved ones to learn, how to perform CPR and use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

“Would you know what to do if someone you love went into cardiac arrest? If not, you should,” Dr Tomic says.

“Even if it’s not someone you love – it’s someone’s loved one. So, if you don’t already know how to do CPR, please sign up to one of the many free courses that are available in the community today,” Dr Tomic says.

“And once you’ve done that, sign up to be a GoodSAM responder. Anyone confident in CPR can join up to GoodSAM, which is an app that alerts people when there is someone in cardiac arrest nearby, allowing them to possibly save a life.”

Survival rates can more than double with community help. Bystanders can save lives by starting CPR and using an AED.

This year’s report findings follow a similar pattern to the previous year, where data analysis demonstrated a lower survival rate than 2019/20. It is possible that the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the overall health system from 2020 to 2022 may have impacted survival rates.

Dr Andy Swain, Wellington Free Ambulance Medical Director, says they are hopeful of improved outcomes going forward.

“Thanks to a lot of effort by both ambulance organisations to raise awareness and empower communities with the skills and equipment they need to make a difference, we should see better survival rates in time.”

Rachel Evans, Senior Heartbeat Coordinator at Wellington Free Ambulance says it is very encouraging to see the use of AEDs increasing in communities.

“Our ultimate aim is for everyone to feel confident in their ability to administer CPR and use an AED and for these lifesaving skills to be periodically refreshed and remain with them for the rest of their lives.”

Hato Hone St John and Wellington Free Ambulance are committed to improving these outcomes by continuing to work on key initiatives and utilising technology developments, as well as continuing to provide CPR and AED awareness programmes free of charge to the public.

Wellington Free Ambulance runs The Lloyd Morrison Foundation Heartbeat Programme, which offers free CPR training to anyone in the Greater Wellington/Wairarapa region and provides free maintenance of community AEDs in the region.

Sarah Manley, HHSJ Deputy Chief Executive of Community Health and Engagement, says St John runs free programmes in communities such as 3 Steps for Life and ASB St John in Schools, and facilitates donations of AEDs to at-risk communities.

“Communities play a pivotal role in improving cardiac arrest survival rates, particularly for Māori and Pasifika whānau who are more likely to have a cardiac arrest and less likely to survive,” Ms Manley says.

“This is why Hato Hone St John has been working incredibly hard to reach communities and empower people all around Aotearoa with the 3 Steps for Life – calling 111 for an ambulance, starting CPR, and using an AED, which can help save the life of a whānau member or someone in your community.”

Ms Manley says more than 28,000 people across the motu learned 3 Steps for Life last year, bolstered by the organisation’s first-ever Shocktober campaign during October, which empowered more than 10,000 people with lifesaving skills.

“To have reached so many people, right across the country – and with some awesome partnership work along the way including attracting new volunteers, increasing awareness and engagement, and most of all, equipping people with the skills to make a life-changing difference – I have no doubt lives will be saved from all the mahi Hato Hone St John and Wellington Free are doing to improve survival outcomes for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”



Wellington Free Ambulance or Hato Hone St John Media Team

PH 021 348 571 PH 0800 756 334


Notes to editors:

  • This and previous OHCA reports can be found here.
  • The GoodSAM Responder App allows people who are confident in CPR and using an AED to register and be alerted when someone nearby is in cardiac arrest. If you accept a call for help, a map will immediately show you both where the patient is, and the location of nearby AEDs.
  • Learn how to locate the nearest public AED.
  • Download the Hato Hone St John NZ CPR mobile app for instructions on how to do CPR.


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