Lillian Hsiah remembers waking up in the middle of the night to sounds of wheezing and gasping.
It was 1 a.m. on March 14, 2019, and her husband, Edmund, was gasping for air and his face “turning a burgundy colour,” Hsiah recalled to the Richmond News.
“I was asking him what was wrong and when he couldn’t respond, I knew it was serious so I called 911.”
Hsiah said the medical call taker asked “all the right questions” and guided her in the exact steps to help her husband.
“(The call taker) was calm and told me how to do (CPR) and I remember saying to her that everything was too fast, but I somehow still caught up to her instructions.”
Because her phone didn’t have a speaker option, Hsiah had the medical responder to yell over the phone as she performed CPR while trying to stay calm.
However, she said while she was performing the procedure it was like “God sent a loudspeaker” and she could hear the instructions as clearly as if the call taker was standing next to her.
For her life-saving actions, Hsiah was honoured by the BC Emergency Health Services on Sunday with the Vital Link Award.
In a small ceremony at the Richmond Ambulance Station 269, Hsiah was joined by her husband, family and members of the South Richmond BC Emergency Health Services as she was presented with the award.
The Vital Link Award is BCEHS’ most prestigious community honour and is awarded to bystanders who help paramedics by performing CPR on a patient during a cardiac arrest.
“I was very surprised and honoured to be given this award, but I feel like this credit shouldn’t be given to just me,” said Hsiah.
“I want to give credit to God because he sent angels down to help me, which were the paramedic and first responders,” she said.
“I don’t think I deserve anything, and credit truly should go to the paramedics.”
Once paramedics arrived, Edmund’s heart was restarted and he was taken to Vancouver General Hospital for an angioplasty surgery immediately.
Edmund walked out of VGH and recovered at home five days later, but he said other than leaving the hospital and feeling a “bit exhausted” the night of the incident, he doesn’t remember anything.
“All the painful parts of the experience is gone, but I know that I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for Lillian and the paramedic workers,” said Edmund.
According to Jonathan Costa, an advanced care paramedic with South Richmond BCEHS, over 45,000 Canadians suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospitals each year. He highlighted that learning CPR is important and that it can increase the chance of survival of up to 75 per cent.
Costa, who was in charge of Edmund’s case, called Hsiah a “brave and courageous” individual, adding that not everyone “feels comfortable performing CPR.”
“Because of Lillian’s willingness to act, her husband Ed is here with us today,” said Costa at the award presentation.
“BCEHS recognizes it takes knowledge, courage and conviction to act in an emergency and we are proud to present Lilian with an award signifying that (Lillian) is a Vital Link recipient.”