Three Courtenay workers receive Vital Link Award after saving manager’s life


Carenda Hadaller and Ryan Schroth were honoured with the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) Vital Link Award Saturday for saving the life of their manager.

They were two of three employees who did everything that mattered when Jeff Lucas suddenly collapsed in the store last year.

“Jeff kind of started stumbling on his words and put his hand up to his chest and went to go and try to brace himself on the doorway so I went underneath his arm and brought him down to the ground with me and immediately Jeff wasn’t responsive,” said Schroth.

Another employee called 911 and two ambulances were sent to the store as Schroth began CPR.

“I’ve done CPR training over the years multiple times,” he added. “I think this is the first time I’ve ever had to actually put it to use.”

Corenda Hadaller then ran next door to Thrifty Foods to grab their AED machine.

“So Ryan and I started to set it up. He was on with the emergency dispatcher and kind of walking us through how to place it and by the time we got it set up the paramedics showed up,” said Hadaller.

Paramedic Chandra Koontz says the call is one of her most memorable and the first in 14 years when someone in cardiac arrest was saved. She nominated the trio for the award as soon as she got back to the ambulance station that day.

“They started everything right away and they were the true First Responders that day and their efforts saved his life,” Koonts said. “By the time we got there they were already well on their way to doing everything. We just sort of took over for them.”

BCEHS says an estimated 35,000 Canadians suffer out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests annually, with only 8.4 per cent surviving to hospital discharge. Bystander-initiated CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) double the chance of survival, but unfortunately, this doesn’t happen very often.

Jeff Lucas would have died that day if not for the quick reaction of the people around him.

“I was really lucky to have so many things in our health care system line up for me,” Lucas told CHEK News Saturday. “I had staff that were trained, I had paramedics that were dispatched quickly. Everybody knew what to do at the time. I was able to get to the hospital quickly and that’s really what I think the story is today. These guys were fantastic and I’m so grateful.”

“It’s pretty surreal seeing him today. It doesn’t happen a lot but it’s always special when it does,” said Thomas Watson, another paramedic who was on the call that day.

“It is nice to kind of have the recognition to realize you helped save a life so that’s pretty big stuff,” added Hadaller.

The BCEHS Vital Link Award is presented to citizens who are involved in saving a life through successful CPR and paramedics say everyone should learn how to do it. It could save the life of someone close to you.

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Dean Stoltz

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