A week or two back, Nigel Baker finished the Kerikeri Half Marathon – a running event that last year nearly claimed his life after he stopped breathing merely a few kilometres from the finish line.
November 2016 and Nigel was part of the many runners who run and walk the renowned half marathon in one of Northland’s favourite spots. With no memory of the day, he relies on what his friends have told him about what happened. Nigel suffered a cardiac arrest at the 19km mark, and he knows he is lucky to be alive to tell the story.
“Luckily the two friends running with me could get me going again. They did CPR and were breathing for me while the ambulance was on its way. Once the ambulance arrived, they gave me a few jolts to get my heart beating again and decided I needed the Northland Rescue Helicopter to get me to hospital really fast,” Nigel says.
“I was flown to Whangarei Hospital and within 40 minutes they sent me to Auckland. The Rescue Chopper team had waited at the hospital and flew me to Auckland where I had surgery to place a stent in my heart. Four weeks later, I had a double bypass operation as my arteries were just knackered.”
And now the 55-year-old used the same race to take the chance to thank the Northland Rescue Choppers for their help on that fateful day.
“Even though I am based in Auckland, we have a home in Kerikeri and we are up there all the time. I was just so thankful for them being there to help me on that day last year and so this year, I was running the marathon again and fundraised $3700 for the service,” he says.
“People thought I was mad when I woke up after the surgery and said I wanted to run the event again – they probably still do!”
Nigel completed the race in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 38 seconds.
He says it is good to remind people that the service is there when you need it.
“I never expected to need to use the Northland Rescue Helicopter, you never think it will be you – but boy, am I thankful they were there. I don’t want to think about what the reality would have been without them.
“They are there when you need it and you can’t put a price on that.”