The quick actions by Duncan’s Judy Wallace on Feb. 10, 2015, not only saved her husband’s life, it earned her a prestigious award from the BC Ambulance Service.
Judy was making her bed that morning while her husband Alvin was getting dressed when she noticed he was looking distressed.
Alvin then collapsed to the floor unconscious and Judy said she knew from the symptoms that he was having a heart attack and immediately began performing CPR on him while also calling 911.
“I was never formally trained in CPR, but I did watch a lot of medical programs, and Alvin had received lots of paramedic training in his 27 years as a fireman and I learned a lot from him,” Judy said.
“I continued to do chest compressions for 10 to 15 minutes before the paramedics arrived, and the emergency operator stayed on the line to help me with the CPR and to keep me calm.”
The paramedics had to shock Alvin’s heart several times before they were able to get a stable rhythm and he was then rushed to Cowichan District Hospital and then on to Victoria General Hospital where he had an operation to place a pacemaker in his heart.
Alvin has had a number of other heart surgeries since then, but was at his wife’s side on Oct. 28 when Judy was awarded the BC Ambulance Service’s Vital Link Award, which is given to bystanders in the province whose skillful actions are brought to bear in a cardiac-arrest emergency.
Jason Twells, BC Ambulance’s manager of patient-care delivery for the central Island, said only about 50 Vital Link Awards are presented each year across B.C., and this is the only one that he can think of that was awarded to a Duncan resident.
“I don’t think 50 awards a year is enough and it should be celebrated every time a bystander performs CPR,” Twells said.
“They are certainly a vital link until the paramedics arrive. For every minute that passes after someone experiences a serious heart attack, their chances of survival drops about 10 per cent without medical attention.”
Alvin said he doesn’t have the words to express how much he thanks his wife for saving his life.
“If not for her, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
“I’d recommend that everyone do a CPR course. You never know when you might need it.”