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Issue No. 399 February 2016

Cell lifesavers praised

Sally Crene and AO Mark Jeffries, centre, with custody unit colleagues Josh Paea, Greg Bryan-Marshall, Larisa Kirifi, Wendy Morby and Sergeant Kevin Davidson.
Photo: Paul Latham, Counties Manukau District

Manukau Police Station custody staff have been praised after saving the life of a detainee who suffered a seizure in his cell.

During a visual check Authorised Officer Mark Jeffries – a St John Ambulance volunteer – noticed the man was unmoving and sweating profusely on his bed and performed a physical ‘wake-up’ check.

Suspecting a seizure, he called for help and an ambulance was summoned.

As Mark and watchouse nurse Sally Crene examined the man he stopped breathing and a cardiac arrest seemed imminent.

They put him on the floor and Mark administered a precordial thump – a blow to the chest to stimulate the heart – and began chest compressions. The man immediately started breathing.

Mark and Sally - one of two nurses based at the unit - continued to monitor him until the ambulance arrived and took him to hospital.

“We were very concerned we were dealing with a cardiac arrest, or were about to,” says Mark. “He was dying in front of us.”

Mark praised Sally and the rest of the custody unit team. “Everything is a team effort,” he says. “You can’t do these things on your own – someone has to be calling the ambulance, or bringing equipment or helping in other ways.”

Mark, a unit member for about six years and a St John volunteer for 18 months, says this was his most serious task in either role.

Custody Section Supervisor Sergeant Kevin Davidson says the incident in December reflects the whole team’s professionalism and underlines the necessity of vigilant monitoring of at-risk detainees.

“We have a dedicated bunch,” he says. “A lot of what they do goes unnoticed – it’s only when something like this happens that you stop and reflect on how much worse things could have been.”


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