April 25, 2010 is a date Mary Rose of Western Bay won’t soon forget.
It’s the day her husband Jimmy Rose’s heart stopped.
It’s the day her “heroes” Ronald Johnson and Jason Oliver gave Jimmy a second chance at life.
Johnson is a veteran first aid instructor with the Canadian Red Cross.
Oliver is an instructor trainer with the organization.
During a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s on Wednesday the men were recognized by the Red Cross for saving Rose’s life.
All three men were on hand for the awards presentation.
Mary Rose was also in attendance.
The story began to unfold when Mary Rose began preparing fish cakes for her husband’s breakfast.
When she called him to come to the table and he didn’t show up, she went upstairs to the bedroom where she found her husband unconscious on the bed.
Mary Rose called The North Shore Ambulance.
Volunteer firefighters involved in first aid training not far from the Rose home also heard the call and told Johnson and Oliver about the emergency.
The two men rushed to the home, with their life-saving equipment, and immediately began CPR until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later.
The ambulance was equipped with an automatic external defibrillator (AED).
Both Johnson and Oliver are trained to use an AED.
They applied the pads to Rose’s chest.
He was resuscitated and transported to the Carbonear General Hospital.
“This is truly a testament of training and being prepared and having the right equipment,” said Wayne Young, Red Cross director of injury prevention for Atlantic Canada.
Before presenting the men with their awards, Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie paid tribute to the Red Cross for the work it does in this province and in other parts of the world.
“I couldn’t think of any other organization more worthy of support and admiration than the Red Cross,” Crosbie said.
Red Cross provincial president Gary Follett outlined some of the organization’s accomplishments over the past year.
In the days following hurricane Igor in September 2010, the organization provided support to 59 of the hardest-hit communities, primarily on the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas.
Canadians donated more than $686,000 to the Red Cross for its relief effort, Follett said.
“These funds enabled us to provide meaningful, much appreciated, supplementary aid to 218 seniors and low-income households facing significant financial burden due to hurricane damages or losses.”
Follett commended Red Cross volunteers for giving more than 6,500 hours of their time following the disaster.
“Their spirit of volunteerism and compassion multiplied the value of every dollar received many times over,” he said.
Follett also noted Canadians have donated more than $15M to the Red Cross following the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
One-third of that money has already been transferred to the Japanese Red Cross, he said.
The Red Cross in this county continues to work with its Japanese colleagues to determine how the rest of the money will be used.
During an interview following the awards ceremony, Mary Rose said her husband’s near-fatal heart attack left her shaken.
“I was downstairs and they were working on him upstairs. I couldn’t go up. It was really frightening.”
Johnson and Rose are cousins. Oliver is a friend of both families.
“It’s just good that Jimmy can be around today with his grandkids just like I’ve got mine,” Johnson said following the ceremony, his five-year-old granddaughter Sarah Johnson at his side.
Oliver said the award proves to the public just how important first aid training can be.
“Jimmy is living proof to that,” he said.
Oliver also commended North Shore Ambulance for its quick response to the call.
Rose was on life support for more than a week following his heart attack. He doesn’t remember what happened that morning or anything else that occurred over the next eight days.
“But if these gentlemen didn’t show up, I wouldn’t be here today. Everything turned out great thanks to these guys and the North Shore Ambulance,” he said.