Neighbours saved man's life after heart attack

Neighbours save man's life

The longest night of Ken and Kim Oszinski's lives began with a weird sound from their neighbour's house in Okanagan Falls. 

"I heard something, but I didn't recognize it as a call for help or anything, just something out of place, so I went over to investigate," Ken said. 

"All the sudden I hear Gail screaming: 'It's Steve, he's had a stroke.'"

Gail St. Germain's husband Steve had collapsed suddenly while they were getting ready to go out for the evening on Aug. 25, 2019, suffering from what would later be determined as a heart attack rather than a stroke. Ken and Kim dropped everything and ran over to the house, while Gail dialled 911. 

"I ran into the room and she just handed me the phone. When I looked at Steve, he didn't look good, just totally purple at that time, I thought I was looking at a dead guy already," Ken said, briefly choking back tears while describing the scene. "The 911 operator was really good, she told me exactly what to do."

He remembered a little bit of CPR training from swimming training as a kid, and quickly got to work with chest compressions. He says the following 15 minutes were the longest of his life, alternating working with his wife Kim on keeping their friend's heart and lungs working while they waited for the ambulance to arrive. 

"I did what they said, pumping, it was amazing how fast he pinked up, the colour came back," Oszinski said. "[The 911 operator] said 'Now you need to give him two big puffs of breath.'"

Between the pair, they kept Steve alive until the ambulance arrived, but even then they weren't sure whether he would survive. They had only heard one small flutter of a heartbeat, and emergency responders tried shocking him at the scene to no effect. 

But finally, emergency responders got a heartbeat, right before the ambulance arrived at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Months later, Steve is alive and well, and hosted a ceremony Friday night recognizing Ken and Kim with a BC Emergency Health Services "Vital Link" award for their role in saving his life.

For his part, Steve doesn't remember anything of the incident, but has watched it play out on footage from his security cameras, seeing his neighbours and emergency responders arriving.

"All these people coming to help little old me," he said with emotion, something he will forever be grateful for. 

"They were here to help my wife when she was in dire need of assistance, they were here to help me when I was in ultimate need of assistance."

At Friday's ceremony, first responders from fire fighters to emergency responders were invited to reunite with Ken, Kim and Steve, and celebrate a happy ending. 

"This is one of those stories that shows people, there can be a good ending," Ken said, and Kim added: "Don't give up."

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