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'Certainly, without these dedicated professionals I would not be here today.'

What began as a nagging cough quickly escalated into a life-threatening cardiac arrest and, ultimately, a life-transforming event for Vancouverite David Kwong.
David Kwong with paramedics
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Left to right: paramedic practice leader Jennie Helmer, paramedic specialist Kathy Pascuzzo, patient David Kwong, and primary care paramedics Scott Haig and Spencer Slipper

This past week David took the time to present his story to the PHSA/BCEHS Board of Directors, and the details were riveting.

Just over a year ago, David stepped out of his home and began walking to a nearby clinic for a chest x-ray appointment. After a month-long coughing spell, his family doctor had urged him to get himself checked out. 

That’s the last memory David has left from that fateful morning.

His next recollection was waking up at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) four days later. In speaking with cardiologists, neurologist, nurses, paramedics, family and friends, David finally pieced the missing hours and days together, realizing he had gone into cardiac arrest and was found lying on the sidewalk, unresponsive, just two blocks from his house.  

Thankfully someone driving by called 911 immediately and BC Ambulance Service primary care paramedics Scott Haig and Spencer Slipper arrived within one-and-a-half minutes. The paramedics started CPR and administered shocks using a defibrillator. Paramedic specialist Kathy Pascuzzo arrived on scene shortly thereafter with a LUCAS device (mechanical chest compression machine that provides automated CPR), which aided significantly in David’s survival. 

The paramedics rushed David to VGH where cardiologists inserted two stents to unblock one of the arteries in his heart. He remained in the Intensive Care Unit and the Cardiac Care Unit for the next 10 days before his condition stabilized. 

David doesn't remember a lot of what happened but the event has changed his life forever. He retired from his stressful job as chief financial officer at a large corporation. He started eating better, getting more sleep and spending quality time with loved ones. He also remains eternally grateful for the quality of care he received throughout such a traumatic and life-changing incident.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to the dedicated and well-trained professionals of BCEHS and VGH,” says David. “Had I not received help from the paramedic team at that critical moment, between 6 and 8 minutes after my heart had stopped, I would have irreversible brain damage. Certainly, without these dedicated professionals I would not be here today.”
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