Atlee Williams could see something was wrong as he drove toward the Dawn-Euphemia Fire Hall.
That Sunday in October, Williams had heard the page going out for a medical assistance call and was headed to the fire hall to help.
But the call was right on Lambton Line, near his home.
Williams and Darin Arthurs didn’t make it to the hall. Instead, the two firefighters stopped to help the man who was lying half out of the car on the side of the road.
“Once was saw him, we knew it wasn’t good so we immediately started CPR,” says Williams. “There was no pulse, no nothing.”
“For all intents and purposes, he was gone,” Chief David Williams told council Monday while honoring the firefighters.
The pair worked together until Levi Bergsma arrived. He stabilized the man’s neck and made sure his airways were clear.
The three young firefighters worked to save the man, waiting for the rest of the department to arrive.
“This was the first time that we didn’t have everything there when we got there,” says Bergsma. “We didn’t meet the trucks when we got there.”
Williams says when the Dawn-Euphemia rescue truck arrived, it had a defibrillator on board. For the first time in his career, the device showed shocking the patient’s heart could save him.
“That kind of brought our hopes up.
“We shocked him twice,” says Williams. “Then the paramedics hooked them up to their monitor and that’s when we realized there was a heart beat again.”
Chief Williams says the paramedics gave the firefighters a brief thumbs up to know the man was responding.
But it wasn’t a moment of euphoria.
“At that point we still didn’t know what happened because a lot could change at the hospital,” says Williams.
The man would be in a coma for nearly two weeks, and the three firefighters weren’t sure if the man would fully recover.
“When they finally said he was going to come home, that’s when it really sank in.
“It was pretty cool,” says Williams.
The three firefighters have yet to talk to the man. Chief Williams did speak to him for a few moments.
“He’s very grateful,” says Chief Williams.
For their part, Williams and Bergsma say their intensive training as a firefighter paid off that day. Firefighters have CPR training once a year.
Two of the three will be using those skills in the future. Williams is at Lambton College in the nursing program and Arthurs is training to be a paramedic.
Heather Wright/The Independent