Celebration of Life Awards highlights the quick actions of residents and first responders

Awards presented during Paramedic Services Week

Experiencing a medical emergency can be a scary and potentially life-threatening event. While first responders are trained to help provide treatment, sometimes it takes the quick actions of people in the area to also help save a life.

Held during Paramedic Services Week, the Celebration of Life Awards pay tribute to residents and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) members whose actions saved the life of fellow community members. These are the personal stories of the medical calls highlighted during the 2023 awards ceremony.

Heart attack at home

It was shaping up like a normal day for Steve Lukacs when he started to complain of a sore jaw to his wife.

“He was grabbing his jaw and sweating a lot and I knew immediately he was having a heart attack…and called for an ambulance” said Jennifer Lukacs.

I saw the colour changes… and within 10 minutes his heart had stopped.

WFPS crews arrived and quickly provided medical assistance before transporting Steve to hospital for surgery and recovery.

“If it wasn’t for my wife calling early and (the first responders) intervening I wouldn’t be here today,” said Steve. “I literally owe my life.”

The quick action of lifeguards

Bryan Emond went for an early swim at the St. James Civic Centre Pool before he planned to get on a plane to Arizona but he wouldn’t make his flight.

I thought I’d go one more lap and I don’t remember reaching the other end of the pool.

Bryan made it to the pool’s edge but didn’t look good. Kevin Simoens, one of the lifeguards on duty at the time, went to check on him and realized he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse. He called to Arden Van Mosselaer, another lifeguard, to grab a trauma bag and AED.

“I pulled him out of the pool and we immediately started CPR right there on the pool deck,” said Kevin, who is now a Firefighter-Paramedic with WFPS.

Arden then called 911, got Bryan on oxygen, and worked with Kevin to use the AED. When paramedics arrived, they continued treatment then transported him to St. Boniface Hospital.

“I just really appreciate this gift of life and all the individuals that made it their life to help individuals,” said Bryan.

Saving a choking baby

It was a terrifying sight for parents Rosemarie Piche and Austin Harvey when their 10-month old baby Carolina started to choke. They quickly called 911 where dispatcher Amber was able to talk the parents through how they could help before first responders arrived.

Once they arrived, Carolina had turned blue. Crews tried several different ways to attempt to clear the airways before rushing the baby to the ambulance. On the way to the hospital, paramedics were able to remove a piece of fruit. Carolina then started to cry, much to the relief of everyone around her.

“It was a real team effort, said Michelle Bessas, Platoon Chief, Paramedic Operations. “Right from the mom recognizing the baby was in trouble and calling 911, to the dispatcher trying to keep everyone calm and talk mom into how to clear the airway, the firefighters that arrived on scene first did everything well, the paramedics arrived, if any of those team members were missing it would be a different outcome.”

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