Local woman receives BCEHS Vital Link award for saving her husband’s life

A local woman received the BC Emergency Health Services Vital Link Award Tuesday morning for assisting in saving her husband’s life last year.

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A group of people standing in front of an ambulance. Some paramedics, some firefighters, and a couple of civilians. The woman in pink is receiving an award.
The crew who helped Brad last May standing in front of the ambulance that transported him to the hospital. From right to left: Michael Lee, Chris Austin, Brent Morgan, Desirae Fallis, Nathan Best, John te Bulte, Heather Best, Brad Best, Adam Winn, Kyle Remple, Jonathon Brnjas. (Shailynn Foster, Energeticcity.ca)

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A local woman received the BC Emergency Health Services Vital Link Award Tuesday morning for assisting in saving her husband’s life last year.

John te Bulte, the unit chief of the Fort St. John Ambulance Service, presented Heather Best with the award.

“BC Emergency Health Services created this Vital Link [award] for honouring people that have done heroic efforts,” te Bulte explained.

It was a “lazy morning” for Heather on May 29th, the day after she returned from Cuba, when she called out to her husband, Brad, who was in the kitchen.

“He didn’t answer, so I went and checked on him, and he was laid out,” Heather said. “I immediately knew that things weren’t okay, so I called 911.”

Before medical responders showed up, she was asked to perform chest compressions on her husband, and that’s when a switch flipped on in her head, said Heather. At that moment, the CPR training Heather learned 20 years ago came flowing back.

Firefighters responded quickly, showing up within five minutes of Heather’s call. She had just finished three sets of chest compressions when firefighters took over, using an AED (automated external defibrillator) on Brad.

“His heart was beating on its own by the time we left the house, and we went to the Fort St. John Hospital, where they worked to get him stabilized,” Heather explained.

Heather said the critical air paramedic crew was in the hospital from Vancouver for another case when they became involved.

“They helped advocate for Brad to go to Kelowna, to the heart unit there,” she said.

Brad explained how they possibly would have sent him to Prince George, where it would have then been determined he needed to be transported to Kelowna anyway.

Usually, he said, family isn’t allowed tag along when a patient is being transported by air, but Heather was allowed to go, thanks to the crew advocating for the couple. Heather then had 15 minutes to go home and pack so they wouldn’t be separated.

Brad had phenomenal care in Fort St. John, and during his 10-ten stay in Kelowna, the couple added.

“Aside from the technical skill that the paramedics, firefighters, nurses, doctors, and everyone brought to the table, it was their humanity and caring that sticks,” Heather said.

Brad said he doesn’t remember the day his wife saved his life, and his memory begins on Wednesday when they were already in Kelowna, though Heather said he was conscious on Monday and Tuesday.

“That morning was one of the most terrifying and helpless feelings I’ve ever felt,” Heather said.

The couple said their situation highlights how important CPR training is.

“I have a medical paramedic background in the army, in Alberta,” Brad said. “Beginning with infant CPR, learning how to take care of your children, and then adult CPR, and the fact that training equals muscle memory and muscle memory is what took over the minute the 911 operator said a keyword to Heather.” 

Te Bulte added that each minute that CPR is not done, survival rates drop by 10 per cent.

Good quality CPR increases the survival rate of patients by as much as 75 per cent, the unit chief said.

“[I] can’t overemphasize the importance of getting CPR [training], keeping up on CPR training and practicing,” he said.

In and around Fort St. John, Alpha Training Solutions, Trojan Safety, Code Red + Fast, and AAA Safety and Field Services offer a variety of safety courses that include CPR training.

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