Two Port Saunders residents honoured for quick response
© Sylvia Payne-Gould
Bill Lowe, centre, suffered a heart attack on April 14, 2012. His Heart stopped three times. His sister, Hilda Lowe, and her common-law spouse Clarence Cornick, applied CPR techniques, that Bill had taught them in the past, which kept him alive until medics arrived. The two were recently awarded the St. John Ambulance Life Saving Award.
“He always said to pay attention because the life you save someday could be mine,” said Hilda Lowe, about her brother Bill, who taught St. John Ambulance CPR for some 20 years.
Turns out he was quite right.
The Port Saunders man suffered a heart attack on April 14, 2012.
“All I can remember is that my body was shaking and I didn’t know why,” said Bill.
“My wife couldn’t get any sense out of me, she was a licensed practical nurse, so she called for help.”
Hilda said her, and her common-law spouse Clarence Cornick, were just getting home when the phone rang.
“Eileen (Bill’s wife) said come quick, it’s Bill,” Hilda recalled. “I went through the door and Clarence was behind me.”
When they arrived at the home, Hilda found her older brother and started assessing the situation.
It didn’t look good.
“We thought he was dead. But he told us, during the course, that you do CPR until medical help arrives,” she said.
He was moved to the floor and CPR was initiated, with Hilda breathing in the mouth and Clarence doing chest compressions.
“He had bitten his tongue and vomited, so I had to clean his airways before I do breathing on him,” she said.
“But we brought him back, and put him in the recovery position. Then we lost him again.”
So the CPR continued until medics arrived. Hilda said the medic thought Bill was dead, but the defibrillator was able to get a faint pulse.
It would be a week later, when he awoke in a St. John’s hospital bed, before Bill would find out he had suffered a heart attack, and was saved by Hilda and Clarence. His heart had stopped three times.
Hilda admitted it’s a situation where keeping calm is hard to do.
“But I kept thinking he’s my brother and he needs my help. Don’t panic,” she said.
“Even when I was looking at him and his eyes were fixed, there was nothing. ‘Don’t panic, there’s still time’.”
Bill attributes surviving the heart attack to Hilda and Clarence, and their CPR training.
“I’ve taught well over 4,000 people with this course. I always stress, if you have CPR, is to not be nice and kind and think you’re going to succeed, you’ve got to be aggressive and hard – basically what they did with me,” he said.
Because of their quick action, Hilda and Clarence were presented with the St. John Ambulance Life Saving Award, on June 6, 2013, in St. John’s.
“If they hadn’t have been there, I wouldn’t be here today,” Bill said. “I think people on the coast should know that CPR is useful to have. It doesn’t matter if you took the course six years ago, it can still help save a life.”
After all, he’s living proof.