Napier teacher collapses in classroom

21 March 2018

Napier teacher collapses in classroom

by Heart Saver NZ

The quick thinking of Benita's Mareikura's students quite possibly saved her life when, in late December, she dramatically crashed to the floor while teaching, in front of her classroom of 11 and 12-year-olds.

It was a cardiac arrest.

"I remember going to work and then I remember waking up in Wellington but not much else. Others have had to fill me in," the Napier Intermediate teacher recalls.

Colleagues and family tell her that quickly after she collapsed, a student rushed out to grab the teacher from next door who immediately started CPR. Meanwhile, the deputy principal jumped into her car, flicked on her hazard lights, sped to Jetts Gym a block away to grab the nearest AED/defib, rushed back, ran across the field to Benita’s classroom and immediately attached the AED to an unconscious Benita.

Four things saved Benita's life that day:

  1. The students quickly ran for help
  2. Her colleagues knew how to react. The school staff had recently done a first aid refresher, so the knowledge was fresh and they’d had experience with attaching an AED to a mannequin and using it.
  3. Her colleagues recognised that Benita was suffering from cardiac arrest and immediately started CPR as well as rushing for an AED.
  4. They knew where their nearest AED was.

Without a doubt, the immediate CPR and early use of an AED saved Benita's life.

"The doctors said to me that my outcome could have been completely different without the early use of CPR or AED. A fast reaction from my kids to raise the alarm and of my colleagues to react quickly to me is what saved my life," a grateful Benita recounts.

Like most cardiac arrest patients, Benita had no warning signs.

"I didn’t feel anything at all. I wasn't sick, I hadn't been ill, I didn't feel any pain whatsoever, I didn't feel it coming on – it just happened."

Benita spent the Christmas holidays recovering at home with family and taking it easy. She now lives with a permanent defibrillator in her chest, the size of a matchbox and as heavy as an old 50 cent piece.

She’s back teaching again but has to remind herself to take things slowly. Napier Intermediate have welcomed her back with open arms; they've also invested in their own AED from Heart Saver, just in case – $1895+GST for the price of a life.

"I am so lucky – my husband and I keep saying that it happened at the right place, at the right time, surrounded by the right people doing the right things," she says.

Now Benita wants to share her story to make others aware that cardiac arrest can strike anyone at any time and the main thing is to know how to respond to it and where your nearest AED is.

"I'm so grateful that our staff had all done first-aid recently and that we knew what an AED was and where the nearest one was. Everyone at work has now added the AED Locations app to their phone to find out where their nearest AED is, wherever they are – it's really important."

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