One family shared Valentine’s Day with the people who made sure they are still together.
© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
The Isbister family presented three paramedics with a painting as a token of thanks for saving Wes Isbister’s life.
On Friday, Wes and Karen Isbister and their children visited with the three Parkland Ambulance paramedics -- Jordan Ambrose, Chris Pacey and Brendin St. Anand -- who were instrumental in saving Wes’ life on New Year’s Eve after he went into cardiac arrest.
“On New Year’s Eve, we were just starting the night shift and we got a call for a casino shuttle bus that had crashed into a snow bank,” Ambrose said.
The shuttle bus was located so close to the ambulance base that they arrived on scene within minutes.
“Just as they were arriving, we learned through our dispatch what happened was the driver of the shuttle bus, Mr. Isbister, had slumped over at the wheel and that was what caused the bus to come to rest against the tree,” Ambrose said. “The passengers of the bus had pulled him off his seat and got him onto the floor and were getting ready to do CPR.”
Pacey and St. Anand were able to immediately start CPR in the bus when they arrived on scene.
“They attached a defribulator and they defibrillated him once,” Ambrose said. “Once I got there, he still had no pulse and was in cardiac.”
The paramedics gave Wes a second shock, which resulted in a pulse.
“We extricated him from the bus, got him onto a stretcher and into the ambulance, where we continued resuscitation,” Ambrose said. “Shortly thereafter, Mr. Isbister started breathing on his own and had a pulse and very good blood pressure.”
After being transported to the hospital, Wes had to be defribulated five more times, Ambrose said. When he was being transported to Saskatoon for a quintuple bypass, he went into cardiac arrest a couple more times.
Wes doesn’t remember much from the incident at all.
“I wasn’t aware of what happened at all. I don’t remember too much,” Wes said. “I don’t think I was really with it. I was quite surprised that I had that major of a heart attack.”
His family was grateful for the paramedics being on scene so quickly and saving his life.
“He is an extremely strong man, he walks five miles a day and for this to happen -- it wasn’t supposed to happen,” Karen said. “When it hit me how severe it really was and how close I was to losing him, going through many doctors shaking his hand and telling him the stats of survival, it built up inside of how blessed we were to have everything happen exactly the way it (did).”
Both Ambrose and director of public affairs Lyle Karasiuk said early CPR and defibrillation were key factors in saving Wes’ life.
“We were able to get CPR started right away, which is so important in a cardiac arrest situation to get that CPR and early defibrillation,” Ambrose said. “I think that is one of the reasons Mr. Isbister is here with us today.”
“The importance of doing CPR is really sometimes that is key to any factor. The paramedics are able to provide those important lifesaving skills we can get in the hospital and bring that right into your bus in this case, or your home or workplace,” Karasiuk added. “Whether we are giving people a simple tool, which is a CPR anytime kit you can use at home, or taking a First Aid and CPR course, which we offer, it is all important for people to get some training and be educated.”
The statistics for survival rates for someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest are shocking. Karasiuk said when someone collapses from a sudden cardiac arrest they have about a 15 per cent survival rate.
“When we add early CPR, we can now push that up to a 25 per cent survival rate,” Karasiuk said.
When there is a combination of CPR, a defibrillator and immediate help from paramedics, the survival rate goes up to 45 to 50 per cent.
“What we want to emphasis today is Mr. Isbister is alive and well because of lifesaving skills our paramedics were there to provide,” Karasiuk said. “These things don’t always have a positive outcome. We are glad we were able to start your new year out right on the right foot.”
The paramedics were glad to have the opportunity to visit with the Isbisters and have the chance to see what positive outcomes can come out of a bad situation.
“It is amazing -- we see some much tragedy and sadness in our job that it is rewarding to us to have this happen and get to meet the family after,” Ambrose said.
The family presented the paramedics with a piece of artwork Karen painted depicting the paramedics working on Wes surrounded by guardian angels warding off the angel of death, to show them how much their job means to the Isbisters.
“It was divine intervention -- I believe the young men’s hands were guided by angels,” Karen said. “I painted a picture and still there are no words. There are no words. I would have just been lost without him.”
The paramedics were shocked and honoured when presented with the painting.
“To receive a gift like that from Mr. Isbister … this doesn’t happen,” Ambrose said. “It is our job, it is what we do. To have a reward like that come from a family we helped, it makes us so happy to do our job.”