Downes pulled the woman, Vicky, out of the water, called 911 and began CPR following the instructions of an emergency medical call taker in one of BCEHS’ dispatch centres.
“I just tried to concentrate on what I was doing, and I was trying to talk to her at the same time and bring her back,” said Downes.
He continued chest compressions until after paramedics arrived.
Vicky has no memory of what happened, but she is very grateful that Downes came to her rescue. At a presentation in Vancouver on June 14, Vicky expressed her gratitude.
“I feel happy, thank you, thank you.”
“Marc’s role was instrumental”, said Michael Cosmacini, a BC Ambulance station unit chief, who was the first paramedic on scene. Cosmacini also credits the call taker from the ambulance service who instructed Marc.
“It makes a huge difference when our call takers are able to give those instructions to bystanders that could make the difference between life and death.”
In fact, the call on March 23, was one of the first CPR calls that Emily Kineshanko handled as a newly hired BCEHS call taker.
“It made my day to hear there was a happy ending,” said Kineshanko.
“[I’m] just happy the way it worked out, yep, it was an intense thing,” said Downes.
Dr. Michael Christian, BCEHS Chief Medical Officer, presenting the award to Marc Downes.
For his life-saving actions, Downes was awarded the BC Emergency Health Services Vital Link Award on June 14 with Vicky in attendance. The award is for bystanders who help paramedics by performing CPR on a patient during a cardiac arrest.
Vicky’s son reached out to Downes after learning how he helped save his mother’s life. The two neighbours are now friends.
“It stuck with me, but when I found out everything was okay and she was doing better, just very grateful,” Downes said, adding “I just hope people act in the same situation.”
“I can’t stress enough everybody should learn CPR,” said Cosmacini. “It could be the difference between someone continuing with life or not. It is fairly quick and easy course to learn. It’s like riding a bike, once you learn, you never forget.”
Over 45,000 Canadians suffer out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests annually, with only 8.4% surviving to hospital discharge. Bystander-initiated CPR and use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can increase the chance of survival by up to 75%.
If you are trained in CPR, you can download The PulsePoint Respond App
to alert you if there is a possible victim of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest within 400 metres of your location anywhere in B.C. If there is a public access defibrillator nearby, the app will tell you where it is. Once you receive the alert and find the patient, you can perform hands-only CPR, and use the AED if available, until professional responders arrive.