Celebration of Life highlights stories of survival

First responders work together to help saves lives each day

From cardiac arrest to child birth, the reasons for calling 911 vary, but one of the things that remain consistent is first responders will work together to achieve the best possible outcome.  

Every year, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responds to thousands of calls for emergency medical services. One of those in 2018 was to help Bradley Watson.

“I was sleeping and I heard my brother not breathing properly,” said Abigail Watson, Bradley’s sister. “I tried to wake him up, but I couldn’t wake him up so I went and called my dad.”

Bradley, who was 10-years-old at the time, had stopped breathing.

The family called 911 and Christopher was reassured help was on the way.

“I also instructed him how to do CPR on his child,” said Cindy Semenchuk, the 911 dispatcher.

Christopher immediately began to perform CPR on his son.  That action is being credited for Bradley making a full recovery.

The firefighters arrived first on scene and took over CPR.

“They were doing CPR,” said Rick Bozek, a paramedic who responded to the call. “They had shocked this child, they defibrillated him one time. Our supervisor showed up and we all started to do our job and worked collaboratively to have the best outcome for this child.”

How an AED help save Lyndon Finney's life

It took a team effort of a different kind when Lyndon Finney collapsed during a hockey game in the fall of 2018.
“I thought he was playing a joke and he was going to crawl to the bench, but he didn’t,” said Tony Lamoureux, one of Finney’s teammates. “I opened the box and rolled him over and he was foaming at the mouth.

Also on Finney’s team was Marc Granger, who is a nurse. Using his knowledge of cardiac arrests, he ensured 911 was called, CPR was started immediately, and someone went to get the arena’s AED.

“I did compressions for a bit and then they came back with the AED,” Granger recounted. “It said ‘shock advised’ and I know early electricity (is important) so we did and it worked.”

Finney’s teenage son, Bennet, played on the same team and watched everyone work to save his dad.

Then suddenly his dad became conscious.

“I’m lying on the ice and I hear the defibrillator so I thought something is really bad,” said Finney.
“So then I asked for my glasses and that’s when Bennet skated over and gave me my glasses.”

He remembers covering his eyes briefly then when he moved his hand in front of his face he saw how drastically his skin tone changed colours.

“I thought ‘oh man this is bad’ and when I took my hand off, it just looked blue-ish, green, an ugly blue green, just totally pale,” he remembered.

When first responders arrived, they couldn’t believe what they saw

That quick recovery is being credited to the quick actions of Finney’s teammates.

“(They) knew what they were doing,” said Juan Diaz, a firefighter who responded to the call. “They were very fast at acting; grabbing the AED, they defibrillated him right away, and they started CPR that without a doubt that probably saved the man’s life.”

First responders made Adam O'Connor's recovery a possibility

Adam O’Conner doesn’t remember much about when first responders arrived at his home, however he knows if it weren’t for them his outcome would have been a lot different.

O’Conner was in his 40’s when he went into cardiac arrest. A 911 call quickly late one night lead firefighters and paramedics to his home.

“He went through a variety of different rhythms with his heart and he was a pretty complex call in terms of the amount of skills that were required and a whole team of people that were required to help him,” said Michelle Bessas, the Paramedic Operations District Chief who responded to this call. “It started with communications, the basic life support provided by firefighters, and then we got there.”

Bessas said O’Conner was then transported to the Cath Lab at St. Boniface Hospital where the team at the hospital took over his care.

“There were a lot of people involved in his care and I’m very happy it turned out as well as it did,” said Bessas.

O’Conner remembered waking up after being in a coma for two days and his recovering is continuing.

Fire fighters and paramedics rarely know the outcome of the patients they help. To hear that O’Conner is recovering as well as he is means a lot to the crews that responded to his call.

“Our job has a lot of negative outcomes usually, so it’s nice to see something positive happen,” said Amanda Klassen, one of the paramedics on the call.

All three of the above calls and the crews that were involved were recognized as part of the 2019 Celebration of Life awards.

If you or someone you are with is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or somebody is in cardiac arrest, call 911 immediately. It is important to know your location when calling 911 to ensure first responders will be able to find you.

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