Nicholas Woodiwiss

How to save a life

Saanichites recognized for performing bystander CPR on cyclist

If it weren’t for Heather Ann McRae and Eugene Hahn being part of a minority group, Nicholas Woodiwiss wouldn’t be alive to thank them for saving his life.

McRae and Hahn are among the only 15 per cent of British Columbians who know CPR – a task the pair of strangers performed on a cyclist who suffered cardiac arrest in their Saanich neighbourhood on July 4 at 11 a.m.

“I was driving down the street and a cyclist was coming up. And I saw he wobbled into the middle of the road and he just collapsed on his bike,” said McRae, recalling the incident on Amblewood Drive in the Royal Oak area.

Hahn and his father-in-law, Gus McTavish, were on Hahn’s front lawn when they heard the accident in front of the home.

“It sounded like a gasp, and a very familiar sound of a bike hitting the ground,” says Hahn, an avid cyclist himself.

McTavish says once he and his son-in-law ran to the road, where they saw McRae coming to the cyclist’s aid, he first thought she had struck him with her van. While Hahn called 911, McRae began performing CPR, assisted by McTavish.

“We saw (Woodiwiss) had fixed eyes, no pulse, no circulation, nothing was happening,” McRae says. “He was turning blue – his lips, his upper ears. We knew we had serious issues.”

It took nine minutes for the ambulance to arrive, during which time McRae and Hahn took turns with chest compressions. Another passing motorist, Brenda McPhail, stopped her car to assist, ensuring Woodiwiss’s airway was clear.

“I learned CPR at 19,” says Hahn, 40, who had never needed to use his skills prior to this incident. “I remembered landmarking – how to find the spots the press, and I remembered the rhythm – 15 (compressions) every 10 seconds or so.”

Leanne Heppell, executive director of B.C. Ambulance Service, says the group’s performance of “bystander CPR” prior to the arrival of an ambulance played an important role in Woodiwiss’s surivival.

“Even with the best technology, medical expertise, and the timely deployment of paramedics, the best chance of survival is still bystander CPR,” she says.

“The minutes following a cardiac arrest are vital,” adds Pauline Park, superintendent for Vancouver Island’s 911 dispatch centre. “If bystander CPR is performed immediately, the patient has a much better chance of survival without suffering any brain damage.”

Hahn, McPhail, McRae and McTavish were all awarded Vital Link awards on Thursday (July 26), recognizing the bystanders’ quick responses that helped save a life.

B.C. Ambulance Service, through the ACT (Advanced Coronary Treatment) Foundation, helps teach students and teachers CPR, including McRae, who works at Lochside elementary.

“I wish so many other people took (a CPR) course and knew what to do. We can all do this, we all have this at our disposal. It’s a matter of not wasting time, because the person in front of you is dying,” says McRae.

Woodiwiss, 61, knows he’s lucky to be alive, and says other than a pain in his chest that feels like he “was in a boxing match” from the hard compressions, he’s recovering well.

“This has made me want to do something, maybe help train kids in CPR,” Woodiwiss says. “I can say, ‘I would’ve been dead, but for someone knowing CPR.’ I hope this motivates some people to learn the skill.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sentencing hearing began for Joel Conway who was convicted of break and enter and sexual assault last year. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Saanich man sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into woman’s home and sexually assaulting her

Crown is asking Joel Conway be sentenced to four years for both charges, to be served concurrent

Cat owners are being warned to keep their pets indoors after a threatening note was found posted in a North Saanich neighbourhood. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
ROAM warns Peninsula cat owners after threatening note posted in neighbourhood

Note writer doesn’t want cats pooping in their yard, threatens to trap them

Norm Scott, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch no. 91 in Lanford, pins the first poppy to launch the annual Poppy Campaign on George Baker, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1953 to 1989. Baker said it was an honour to be chosen for something so significant for veterans everywhere. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Poppy campaign launches in Langford with pinning ceremony

The poppy campaign is officially underway with the first of the pins… Continue reading

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read