The luckiest man in Hobsonville Point: ‘Clinically, I was probably dead’

Grant Dixon can’t remember what happened after he fell to the ground near the Auckland’s Hobsonville Point ferry terminal.

But, he does know he wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the people who were there at the time.

“As far as a place to collapse goes, that was probably the best place in the whole neighbourhood because there were a lot of people around.

“Fortunately, for me, the person who took control was somebody from the Air Force. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here, as simple as that. I’d probably be dead.”

Dixon was running his usual 5km course around the Hobsonville Point marina on September 23 when he took a rest and ended up passing out and hitting his head on the ground.

A woman at a nearby cafe yelled, “there’s a dead man on the ground.”

Dixon had a severe head injury, wasn’t breathing, and didn’t have a pulse when a man who was waiting at the ferry terminal rushed over to help.

“I think, clinically, I was probably dead at the time,” he told the Herald.

All he knows about the man is that he worked for the Air Force and was called Dan.

“Dan started doing CPR on me. He couldn’t find a pulse or a breath. He immediately sprang into action and took control of the situation.”

At the same time a lady ran to nearby brewery Little Creatures asking for help.

“She said a person appeared to drop dead,” said general manager Rupert Coffey.

Rupert rushed over to Dixon with the brewery’s AED machine and gave it to Dan.

There was a lot of blood on the ground and Dixon looked “in a pretty bad way”, he said.

“It didn’t look likely Dan was going to be able to bring this guy back. He was approaching irretrievable.”

However, when Dan used the AED machine to shock Dixon’s heart – he was able to bringhim back to life.

Dixon lost his memory for a week after the accident. He’s since been filled in on what happened by others who were there and says he feels lucky and grateful.

Another woman called 111 which activates the local firefighters who were less than a kilometre away.

“She was the one that got the emergency services in order.”

A ferry-load of people got off at the wharf, and one of them recognised him and was able to tell emergency services who he was and then notify his wife at their home nearby.

Dixon’s five children immediately flocked to Auckland from across the country to be with him.

He then spent a gruelling 38 days in North Shore Hospital recovering and is now sharing his story to thank everyone involved.

It’s never been determined what caused Dixon’s medical event: it could’ve been cardiovascular or a result of his head injury from the fall, which took a month to heal.

When Dixon was finally released late last month the hospital staff gave him a special farewell as one of their longest staying patients.

Rupert said he was blown away by Dan’s skills and how composed he stayed during the ordeal.

Since that day in September, Rupert has organised a defibrillation refresher course with St John for the Little Creatures staff.

He wants to see more AED machines in businesses around the country.

Daughter Anna Ward said it was therapeutic to visit the people who had helped their father.

“We went down to where it happened. His blood was still on the concrete. One by one, people came out to tell their side of the story.”

Ward’s message to the people who helped save her father’s life is simple.

“Thank you. Thank you for playing their part, either calling the ambulance or shouting out to gather people, or Rupert, with the AED, a vital part of the puzzle. A big thank you.”

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