On Nov. 29, the BC Ambulance Service in Revelstoke presented the Vital Link Award to Shawn Sanders. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Revelstoke man honoured for saving friend’s life

The Vital Link Award is given to citizens for saving a life through CPR

Imagine you’re loading a truck one second and the next you’re lying on the ground.

Dead.

That’s what happened to Russell Davies, a resident of Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.

“It happened all of a sudden. All the electrical in my body just stopped,” says Davies.

Three years ago, Davies and his friend Shawn Sanders were working on Davies’ property when Davies fell to the ground from a cardiac arrest.

“He just went over into a slump. I rolled him over onto his back and he was gone. Eyes wide open. Boom. Basically all white,” says Sanders.

Three years ago Russell Davies clinically died for half an hour from cardiac arrest. (Submitted)

Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of blood flow from the heart failing to effectively pump. By comparison, a heart attack is when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked. Basically, cardiac arrest is electrical problems and a heart attack is plumbing problems.

According to the CPR Certification HQ website, the chances of a victim surviving decreases seven per cent every minute CPR is not administered.

In seconds, Sanders springs into action. He asks someone nearby to call 911, notices Davies isn’t breathing and begins mouth-to-mouth. After describing Davies’ vitals to the 911 operator, Sanders is told to go straight to CPR.

“If it wasn’t for 911, it would have been a different story. I don’t think he would have made it. I would have been too slow,” says Sanders.

READ MORE: B.C. 911 call-taker gets rare glimpse of what happened after call

Sanders owns his own logging company in Revelstoke, B.C called Sanders Systems Skyline Logging, which is a long span cable logging company.

“I’ve seen guys get hurt before. Guys smashed by logs, but nothing like this.”

Sander says he’s always been one to act fast.

The 911 operator gave Sanders the rhythm for CPR to follow. Incidentally, it’s the same beat for the song Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.

“I wonder if they knew how their song would be used when they wrote it,” says Davies with a chuckle.

Between Sanders and a neighbour, they preformed CPR on Davies for over 20 minutes. Each swapping out when the other got tired.

“I hadn’t had a first aid course in 15 years. Thank god for 911,” says Sanders.

READ MORE: B.C. husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

CPR aids in maintaining vital blood flow to the brain and heart. It also aids in increasing the duration electric shock provided via a defibrillator, making the process more effective.

When the ambulance arrived they hooked Davies up to an automated external defibrillator (AED). By this time, Davies had turned blue.

“After the third hit, we got a heart beat,” says Sanders.

Davies had been dead for roughly half an hour.

The ambulance took Davies to the hospital and Sanders trailed in his vehicle behind.

Amazingly, Davies made a full recovery. Or at least almost.

“Since I croaked, I have trouble with time and dates,” says Davies.

Regardless, such a strong recovery according to doctors is rare.

“The doctors told me the chances of surviving something like this was one out of ten. Even if it had happened in hospital, I only had one out of five chances of surviving. So I count myself very very lucky.”

While recovering the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada approached Davies and asked if he would like to be part of a trial on stem cell research. Doctors went into his femoral artery and with a two mm syringe, they gave Davies 20 injections with stem cells onto the inner wall of his heart. Stem cells will duplicate whatever cells they are beside. This was to strengthen Davies’ heart.

“I’ve been really well looked after. I’m really happy with our health system. It’s really good.”

With his second chance at life, Davies hopes to travel.

“I want to go to Portugal. The food sounds really interesting. Like stone soup and green soup, which are such unusual names for soup.”

On Thursday, the BC Ambulance Service in Revelstoke presented Sanders with the Vital Link Award. The award is presented to citizens who are involved in saving a life through successful CPR efforts.


 

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Roughly three years ago Shawn Sanders saved his friend’s life with CPR. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Three years ago Russell Davies clinically died for half an hour from cardiac arrest. (Submitted)

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