For Randy Chilcott, Dec. 20, 2013 began as a routine workday. But that literally changed in a heartbeat.
The truck driver from Sarnia had made his second stop of the day, picking up a load of cement blocks at Chatham-Kent Ready Mix.
The day took an unexpected turn for the worse when Chilcott collapsed suddenly onto the floor of the cement plant.
He was in cardiac arrest.
Thanks to some quick action by employees who started CPR, and the work of EMS paramedics, Chilcott survived his heart attack.
“It’s scary to know how close I was to not making it,” said Chilcott, who doesn’t remember much about that day.
His story was one of nine that were shared during the second annual Survivor’s Day, held June 25 at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre.
The day celebrates the lives that were saved and those who save lives by honouring the survivors and the people who responded to their emergencies.
Dr. Paul Bradford, local medical director for the London Health Sciences Centre (LHCS), said it’s about recognizing the “chain of survival.”
Noting that it’s not easy, he said the links in the chain involve many highly trained people, including the operators who answer 911 calls and the emergency responders.
“The fact that there are people that have survived is testament that it all worked, which means they had the right equipment and the right number of trucks were there so they could have an availability of a truck to be there within a very short period of time,” said Bradford. “It also means the people were trained together so they could work as a team in order to make it happen.”
In Chilcott’s case, EMS paramedic Jim Sinclair said teamwork, including the CPR that was administered by Ready-Mix employee Tom Dillon, was critical.
“He’s the one that kept the heart beating or else we wouldn’t have been able to save him,” said Sinclair.
“We did what we thought we were supposed to do and each of us played a part,” said Dillon.
One colleague, Colin Bisschop immediately called 911.
Another employee, John Carroll, gathered more information by calling Chilcott’s family and employer.
“We just did what we thought was right and it resulted in him being able to come down and see us (today),” said Dillon.
According to Matthew Gaudette, operations manager for Medavie EMS Ontario Chatham-Kent, the service responded to 10,500 calls for help in the last year.
Of those, 132 were for pre-hospital cardiac arrests.
“On arrival of EMS paramedics, that person’s heart was not beating,” said Gaudette. “Of these, 25 were resuscitated.”
Dr. Bradford said the numbers are impressive.
“The save rate in Chatham-Kent is about 25%, which is unbelievable for a community of this size and speaks a lot to the effort…it speaks to their passion, their dedication, and it’s a real honour to work with them,” said Bradford.
The LHCS leads the Southwest Ontario Regional Base Hospital program, which, among other tasks, provides EMS guidance and training throughout the region, including Chatham-Kent.