George Myer is alive today, thanks to well-trained paramedics and fire fighters — and one man who didn’t hesitate to jump to his aid.
On March 15, the 92-year-old Central Saanich man and his wife Rolande ‘Lolly’ Garside, were at Boondocks Restaurant in Sidney for lunch with another couple. They had just sat down at around 11:45 a.m. and a server had told them the specials when Garside heard her friend ask George, or Tyke as he is known, if he was all right.
“He’d turned a different colour,” she said, “and began to make strange noises, and out of nowhere comes this gentleman. He pushed chairs out of the way and immediately got Tyke to the ground and began CPR.
“He actually saved my husband’s life.”
Garside said 9-1-1 was called and fire fighters and paramedics arrived, but she was not sure how soon they did, for she was focused on her husband.
The man who came to George’s rescue was Ken White, a life member of the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department who served from 1996 to 2006. He said his first clue that the man near him was in distress was his laboured breathing.
“His friend was talking to him and he wasn’t responding normally. I immediately went over there and we helped lower him to the floor and I immediately began CPR.”
White said he’s known CPR for a long time, having been trained while as a fire fighter in Sidney. He said all of its members are first responders and receive a high level of training to be able to help people in emergency situations.
“You never forget CPR. It’s something everyone should have,” White said, noting people in cardiac arrest need help within four to six minutes before the lack of oxygen leads to serious harm or death.
“Things happen quickly,” he continued. “It’s a matter of minutes in order to save someone’s life.”
White knows this first-hand, having been an active first responder in Sidney — as well as performing CPR in his full-time job with Air Canada. It was more than a decade go, White said, when a passenger about to board a morning flight to Toronto from the Victoria airport, collapsed. He, too, was having a cardiac arrest. White gave him CPR until paramedics arrived and the man survived. White said, however, that his actions play one of many roles provided by well-trained first responders.
“We are really lucky to have these highly-trained professionals here in Sidney.”
Tyke and Lolly would agree.
“We were unbelievably lucky that (White) was there,” Garside said.
The pair had never been in Boondocks before and she wondered what might have happened if they’d chosen to go somewhere else.
George was taken to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, where he underwent surgery to put in a pacemaker. He came home on Sunday, March 19 and Garside said he is resting and recovering.
George had had a heart attack and surgery around 17 years ago, Garside added, noting that the doctor who performed that operation all those years ago, was the one at the hospital on the weekend who put in her husband’s pacemaker.
“Everything happened so strangely, like it was meant to be,” she said.