Keith grateful for help received from St John

Grateful ... From left, Keith Elefitheriou with intensive care paramedic Steve Pudney and emergency medical technician Mark Handley, who took care of Keith the night he had a heart attack. They are joined by local territory manager Cole Gillman.



Keith Elefitheriou says it is the best $90 he has spent on a taxi.

The Rangiora marriage celebrant suffered several heart attacks in the early hours of March 16, 2019, and is incredibly grateful to the team from St John in North Canterbury who got him to Christchurch Hospital in an ambulance.

“It is the cheapest and most effective taxi you can get,” Keith says of the ambulance and those who staffed it.

Keith had two stents inserted, but not all went well with that procedure. Later, he had a quadruple bypass.

He cannot believe the calm and caring manner of the St John staff who arrived at his home that evening. Keith was unaware of how serious his situation was, or even that he was having a heart attack.

“Between these guys and the hospital staff, it was just a normal day. I owe these guys a hell of a lot.”

Keith had finished officiating at a wedding and headed home. He couldn’t sleep as it felt like a lump of food was lodged that needed to go “up or down”. He had a drink and a smoke, and waited for it to pass.

Meanwhile, his wife called St John, who recognised Keith was having a heart attack and geared up to get him to hospital, which was busy because of the Christchurch mosque shootings.

He protested when arriving that he was fine and for staff to look after patients from the shootings who needed more attention than him.

Keith says it was lucky for him that there is such a good pathway for St John care in North Canterbury, particularly in a close radius of Rangiora. “Anywhere else and I might have been sitting there till morning.”

  • St John is calling on New Zealanders to support its annual appeal, which runs until Sunday, April 11.

It aims to raise $1.8 million in its Heart of Gold appeal for ambulances and equipment.

St John chief executive Peter Bradley says funding is received from the government, but St John has to fundraise to plug a gap in operating costs.

Last year, there were more than half a million emergency calls into 111 Ambulance Communication centres, and more than 460,000 patients were transported for treatment.