Hawke’s Bay Marathon runner saved by first responders after cardiac arrest

A runner has credited a team of first responders for saving her life after she went into sudden cardiac arrest during the Hawke’s Bay Marathon.

Tauranga mother of two Maree Raipal was competing along with 8000 others, on May 14, when she collapsed without warning.

Fortunately, a number of medical professionals, including a cardiologist and an orthopaedic surgeon, were running close by and immediately started CPR.

The 32-year-old, who is an avid runner, said she was feeling great at the start of the race.

“My body was ready to go, I was hitting targets in my training and everything appeared to be on track. I felt the same, if not better than I have felt before other events.”

Raipal said the last thing she remembered was feeling light-headed.

“I pulled over to the side, paused my watch and then the world went black.”

Raipal is one of more than 2000 people in New Zealand who are treated for sudden cardiac arrest each year in the community.

“My experience shows the importance of good first aid skills. Without it, I wouldn’t be here today and I can say this for a fact.”

A total of eight people responded swiftly to help Raipal, performing CPR on her and ultimately saving her life.

“They gave me the best possible first aid, which is shown in my cognitive functioning and the fact I have no loss of memory or abilities,” she said.

A defibrillator was then used on her from a close by fire engine to shock her heart and bring it back to a normal rhythm.

Raipal was taken to the emergency department at Hawke’s Bay Hospital and then spent two days there before being transferred to Tauranga.

The mother of two said she has so many people to thank for saving her life.

“As well as the first responders, I feel so grateful to the emergency workers, the ambulance and fire engine drivers who cared for me and transferred me to hospital – particularly the one which drove my kids to the hospital with our puppy on her lap so that my husband could stay with me,” she said.

She added that the nurses and doctors at Hawke’s Bay Hospital were amazing, as well as the flight team to took her back to Tauranga.

Research undertaken by St John shows there is a 13 per cent chance of survival following cardiac arrest.

For every minute that goes by without CPR or using AED defibrillation the chance of survival drops by 10 to 15 percent.

If you witness a cardiac arrest, you can increase the person’s chances of survival by calling 111 immediately, doing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator.

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