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Richmondites honoured by BC Ambulance for saving man's life

'Learning CPR is a selfless gift that everyone can give...'
Madhav Chhibbar, Lyndon Li and Laurie Watts (centre) were given Vital Link awards for helping save a man who had a heart attack at South Arm Community Centre. Here they're joined by Brian Twaites (far left) and Jeff Watts (second from right) as well as a member of the BC Ambulance honour guard, Nathan Chang.

Last July, when a fitness centre patron collapsed at South Arm Community Centre, three bystanders responded – one on the phone to 911, another doing CPR and a third applying an automated external defibrillator (AED).

On Tuesday morning, the three bystanders, Madhav Chhibbar - who works at the community centre -  Lyndon Li and Laurie Watts, were recognized with Vital Link Awards from BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) for being part of the “chain of survival” for a cardiac patient.

Brian Twaites, information officer for BCEHS, said this chain of survival includes early recognition of cardiac arrest, early activation of EMS, early bystander CPR and early defibrillation, followed by advanced resuscitation, post-cardiac arrest care and recovery.

In fact, the family of the patient was told at hospital that the CPR, applied in the right way, was crucial to his complete recovery.

At the awards ceremony, Twaites said the three bystanders were being honoured for being “our vital link in the health care of British Columbians.”

Sixty thousand Canadians suffer sudden cardiac arrest every year, and doing CPR and using an AED can double the survival rate, Twaites noted.

“Learning CPR is a selfless gift that everyone can give to loved ones and to strangers alike,” he added.

Retired paramedic Jeff Watts, who is also the coordinator of the high school first responder program in the Lower Mainland, recounted what happened on that July day at South Arm Community Centre.

“Madhav, Lyndon and Laurie undoubtedly played instrumental roles in the care and successful recovery of the patient,” Jeff Watts said.

Both Chhibbar and Li were graduates of the high school first responder course at Hugh McRoberts secondary, a program that exists in 27 secondary schools in the Lower Mainland.

“I’m happy they were able to utilize their skills that they had learned to help save a patient’s life – truly an honour,” Jeff Watts said.

Laurie Watts, who was on the phone with 911 during the medical emergency, said she was impressed with Chhibbar and Li's actions.

“I think you guys were total badass in the situation – it was very impressive,” Laurie Watts said. “I am so happy you were there… all the high schools should be learning this.”

This was echoed by Twaites who noted “every minute counts in cardiac arrest.”

“It takes knowledge, courage and conviction to act in an emergency,” Twaites said. “If more people were brave and willing to step up, deaths or serious, life-long effects caused by cardiac arrest would drop significantly.”

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