Training, portable AED credited in rescue effort
Christine Ward didn't start her day thinking she would save a life.
© Submitted photo
Eldon Hymers (centre-left) and his wife Terry (centre) pose with Christine Ward (right), the first responder who helped to save Hymers' life, and paramedics Mike Slater (far right) and Greg Bishop (far left). Hymers is holding an Automated External Defibrillator — the exact kind of device used to save his life.
But when the First Responder went to Mosaic Place to collect her tickets to see Blue Rodeo, she was told a man had collapsed on the facility's curling rink and needed assistance.
"Rick Evans came running out and yelled that he needed the AED (Automated External Defibrillator), and asked if someone could phone for an ambulance," Ward told the Times-Herald Thursday. "I'm trained in that area, so I asked the lady (at the box office) to look after my wallet and went with Rick out onto the ice."
The man — Eldon Hymers — was in cardiac arrest, said Ward. Others had already begun the process of chest compressions.
When she announced herself as a First Responder, the others let her take over.
"My thought processes at that time went just about to automatic," explained Ward. "There was a gentleman lying on the ice with no heartbeat and he wasn't breathing, so I just went into an automated mode because I practiced for this so many times.
"Things happened pretty quickly … the faster all of the responses happen, the better chance (Hymers) had of returning to a normal life," she added. "Reflexes just took over. I would like to say I'm at the level of training where it came pretty naturally."
Ward immediately began performing CPR and using the AED to help restore Hymers' circulation and breathing.
For his part, Hymers said, he has "no memory or recollection" of Ward's role in saving his life.
"All I can remember is fainting, and coming to with the EMS putting me on a spine board," he said. "It wasn't until after the fact that I was told there was a First Responder who came out onto the ice and volunteered to help me."
Ward said the experience was "sort of surreal" to her for the rest of the day, but that it "started to sink in" over the next few days.
"I went through the process of deciding how I felt, and I came to recognize it was my honour to help him to live," she said. "It was very humbling to be part of the bigger picture, and to play a part in someone's life like that."
We do it because we're needed at that time, and we just go into that gear. Christine Ward, First Responder
The pair were reunited Wednesday in a presentation recognizing Ward's role in saving Hymer's life. Also present where the paramedics who transported Hymer to the hospital, his wife, and several others who were involved.
"It really struck home when I was able to meet Eldon and his wife, and gave her a hug," said Ward.
"It was very nice to meet Christine in person," added Hymers. "She is a very humble first responder, but I think she was proud to see that I recovered from the incident."
Ward said she was proud that she had helped save his life — but that she, like all First Responders, didn't do it for the recognition.
"We do it because we're needed at that time, and we just go into that gear," she said. "I'm grateful that I was able to be of help. … It was such an honour for me to be able to see (Eldon and his wife) together, happy, and alive. That was a really big payback for me."
After having a pacemaker put in, Hymers said he is on the mend, and hopes to be back out on the ice to curl "before the end of the season."
He added that he is "a very, very lucky fellow," and that he was grateful to "all of the people who were there to help me out."
He credits his survival not only to the people who were there, but also the AED device.
"Not every place has those devices," he said. "Any time that I can promote those portable AEDs, I'm certainly going to do that … If there's more of them (out there), they're definitely going to save more lives."