Four days before she turned 17, Madison Mould was driving home from her shift at Starbucks on a warm Sunday in June. Her mother was in the passenger seat, because Mady was on her learner's licence.
As they turned onto Garden Avenue in North Vancouver, Mady saw an older man lying on the sidewalk a couple blocks ahead, not moving.
“I could tell something was really wrong,” says Mady. She pulled over and ran to the scene without hesitating.
Another bystander was already calling 911, and some concerned passersby were wandering over and asking what had happened.
But Mady knew more decisive action was needed. She’d taken CPR training several years ago as part of a babysitting course, and the key steps came right back to her.
“I could see he was blue. I looked for a pulse on his neck and wrist and couldn’t feel anything. I checked if he was breathing, but couldn’t hear anything,” Mady says. “So, I knew OK – I have to start CPR now.”
By that point, her mother had also called 911, and came over to Mady with the emergency medical call taker on speakerphone.
“The call-taker asked if I’d ever done CPR before, and I said no, but I’d done a babysitting course” remembers Mady. “She said that was totally OK, and to keep doing compressions to the beat of Staying Alive” (by the Bee Gees).
Mady asked if she should do mouth-to-mouth breathing and the dispatcher said to continue with hands-only CPR. Mady initially worried she might hurt the man, but the emergency medical call taker reassured her and said to keep pushing as hard as she could. “It definitely was a little bit scary at the start, but it makes sense you have to push really hard because you’re basically pumping the heart manually,” says Mady.
“I didn’t feel tired at all at the time, but afterwards I realized I was super sweaty, and my arms were so sore the next day!” Mady appreciated that, soon before paramedics arrived, another woman trained in CPR ran up and took over the chest compressions to give Mady a rest.
Paramedics were on the scene less than five minutes after the 911 call, but Mady said it felt like she’d been doing CPR for at least 15 minutes. As a crew took the patient to hospital, Mady gave a statement about what happened.
“We asked if we’d able to find out whether he was OK, but they said no, they can’t tell you,” explains Mady. “So, we just went home and wondered what happened to that man. I remember calling my best friend right after and saying OMG you will not believe what just happened.”
Months later, Mady got a call from BCEHS during high school English class. She learned the man had survived his sudden cardiac arrest – his name was Ron Lisell – and that she’d been nominated for a Vital Link
award for her actions by Matthew Abbott, an Advanced Care Paramedic who responded to the call.
Mady with her mom, Ashley, and dogs, Norman and Millie. Since the incident, Mady graduated from Sutherland High School.
The pandemic delayed the award ceremony, but Mady, Ron and Matthew were finally able to meet for the award in December 2022. Mady says she’s deeply grateful for the rare chance to meet Ron at the award ceremony.
“It was a once-in-a lifetime experience,” says Mady. “Ron reminds me of my grandpa, and I’m really happy that I was there when I was, so that he can still be here with us.”
Ron says he’s grateful Mady was there, too. “It was a normal day for me, and then I just fell to the ground basically dead. Luckily, she came to the rescue, and was well enough trained to keep me alive until the ambulance got there.” Now in his mid-70s, Ron is living in West Vancouver and recovering from his cardiac arrest.
This wasn’t Ron’s first experience with bystander CPR – he’s also given CPR to others multiple times throughout his life. Growing up, Ron worked as a lifeguard at local lakes and pools, and did CPR for several emergencies. Then, decades later, he chanced upon a serious highway car accident, and was again able to provide CPR until emergency services arrived.
“It’s really powerful and life-changing when you’re able to give CPR to people in need," says Ron. "It stays with you your whole life."
Looking ahead, Mady clearly has an aptitude for quick action in emergencies. Would she ever consider working in paramedicine? “I’ve probably gone through about 100 different careers I’ve been interested in – but being a paramedic is one of them! I like working with people and I’ve always thought ambulances were really cool.”
Mady has a keen interest in learning about the human body and is currently in her first year is studying kinesiology at Capilano University. “My plan is to finish my degree first, and then hopefully in 4 years have a better idea of what I want to do – but paramedicine is definitely a possibility for me.”
Mady touring an ambulance during the award ceremony.
BCEHS paramedic Brian Twaites hopes all British Columbians learn CPR and act quickly like Mady did – recognizing the signs of a sudden cardiac arrest, making sure 9-1-1 is called, beginning CPR, and using a portable automated external defibrillator (AED) if available.
Over 45,000 Canadians suffer out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests each year, and bystander-initiated CPR and the use of AEDs can increase the chance of survival by up to 75 per cent.
“Our front-line paramedics and dispatchers see first-hand how bystander CPR can save lives,” says Brian. “Sudden cardiac arrest is just that – it’s sudden and leaves patients unresponsive. If you don’t know or remember what to do in an emergency, it’s okay – don’t be afraid. Call 9-1-1; our highly trained emergency medical call takers can coach you on how to care for a patient until paramedics arrive on scene.”
CPR can be done by anyone who has had basic training or is being coached by someone who is trained, such as a BCEHS call taker in our dispatch when you call 911.