Tuesday, 21 February 2023 - 12:55pm

Right people, right place, right time

3 min read

News article photos (1 items)

Brenda (centre, white top) surrounded by her family and members of the community who helped save her life.

​On 7 December 2022, 89-year-old Brenda Long was driving to get her nails done in Feilding when she suffered a serious cardiac event.

She crashed into a parked car before coming to a stop - and that’s when the clock started ticking to save her life.

Several members of the public sprang into action, including Gareth Edwards from Design Builders, Jeremy Glasier from Able Axcess, and off-duty Firefighter Jack Everett who was driving past.

They swiftly got Brenda out of her car and took her into the Able Axcess foyer, where they started doing CPR and fired up a defibrillator. Brenda had stopped breathing.

Within minutes of a witness calling 111, Feilding staff Sergeant Nick Lawton and Senior Constable Allan Wells arrived on scene - and that’s when Nick realised the woman lying on the floor hooked up to a defibrillator was his wife’s grandmother.

“While Allan coordinated the scene and attending staff, I grabbed the bag mask valve and supported the team working on Brenda,” says Nick. 

“Those minutes felt like hours, and I couldn’t help but think how I was going to break the news to my whānau.

“The first shock from the defibrillator was delivered within three minutes and, after two more shocks, Brenda’s heart started beating again, but she wasn’t out of the woods.”

Brenda was in a critical condition and was placed into a drug-induced coma by the attending paramedics before being taken to Palmerston North Hospital by ambulance.

“It was incredibly difficult to break the news to my family, but it was amazing to see my blue whānau pull together for me,” says Nick. “A colleague walked to a local restaurant to advise my wife as I unfortunately couldn’t reach her.

Our whānau were very worried about Brenda’s condition while she lay there in ICU, and we were told things were grim and to be prepared for the worst by medical staff."

Whānau from across the island began to assemble by Brenda's bedside - but the following day they got the surprise of their lives.

Brenda with her first responders Jeremy and Gareth.
Brenda with her first responders Jeremy and Gareth. 

“We visited Brenda again and it was absolutely incredible to see her awake, talking and in good spirits," says Nick.

“She is an amazing woman, mother and grandmother and her passion and energy for life is contagious.

“The whole chain of events went from worst case scenario to best case response from our community. It just goes to show how amazing our community is, coming together to save a life.”

Nick organised a morning tea to connect with and thank everyone who helped Brenda. It was held earlier this month at Feilding Police Station with Feilding Mayor Helen Worboys also in attendance.

Brenda was supported at the event by her daughters Chrissy and Cindy, along with her granddaughter Kim. She expressed her thanks and admiration for those who saved her.

“You gave me the gift of life and you’ve done a great job, and I want to thank you all,” says Brenda.

“From those who were first on the scene to the Police, Fire, and St John staff - I can’t thank you enough.

“You are all amazing and I couldn’t have crashed in a better place – near caring people and just down the road from the police station.”

While the experience has led to Brenda giving up living independently, her zest for life certainly hasn’t been dulled by her near-death experience.

“I now live in a local retirement village and we often go out in the van for shopping trips and excursions so there is never a dull moment,” she says.