In July, John Harrison had a massive heart attack. What doctors refer to as a widow-maker. He had been cycling up what he had just told his wife was “cardiac hill.” So when he took off ahead of her and fell off his bike, for a moment, Carol Harrison thought he was joking around.
He was in a full-blown seizure when she got to him and started chest compressions.
She remembers thinking compression speed must be to the rhythm of “Row, row, row, your boat.” Carol had taken a CPR course about four years before.
A bystander took over CPR in the street and a PulsePoint app alert brought in more bystanders to help.
John survived. This week, on World Restart A Heart Day, Carol and John hosted close to 70 of their neighbours, and some family members, to learn CPR from BCEHS and the paramedics who cared for him when he collapsed.
“It’s the ultimate pay-it-forward,” said Carol.
The training, organized and led by Peter Thorpe, director of strategic program development, is part of BCEHS’s efforts to break down barriers that exist around bystander CPR. Carol described the training as “making [CPR] so less scary.”
John is the perfect case for bystander CPR. Doctors said he had a less than six per cent chance of survival. Without CPR intervention within three to five minutes, he wouldn’t have made it, said Carol.
“The only person more enthusiastic about CPR than me, is Carol,” says Peter.
Her next step is getting an AED installed at the condominium complex where they live, and following that, more intensive training, she said.
As for John, he is telling anyone who will listen about his story of how people saved his life with CPR. He is also, after a massive heart attack that rendered him unconscious for four days, back out riding his bike.