It’s normal to wake up from a nightmare momentarily disoriented, short of breath and heart pounding. Unpleasant as they are, it usually only takes a few minutes to settle down and go back to sleep.
But for Ann Scrymgeour, there would be no rest to follow once awoken in the darkest hours of the night – and her life – by the very real nightmare happening beside her.
Jack, her husband of 43 years, lay unresponsive in the midst of a heart attack. Shaking off the panic that threatened to paralyze her, Ann quickly phoned 9-1-1.
“9-1-1 for what city?” answered Emergency Communication Officer (ECO) Steven Haggblad, stating the standard greeting for the service that also answers calls for the areas surrounding Calgary, such as Airdrie and Okotoks.
In less than a minute, Steven had collected the initial details and dispatched the appropriate emergency responders. Within two minutes of answering, Steven was coaching Ann through CPR chest compressions. With EMS enroute, Ann performed more than 600 chest compressions on her husband, successfully bringing him back to life not only once, but twice.
The arrival of emergency personnel was an overwhelming relief for both Ann and Steven, who were then able to turn Jack’s care over to EMS knowing they’d done everything possible in those critical early moments to save his life.
When he finally regained consciousness after several days in hospital, Ann’s nightmare slowly began to loosen its grip. It let go completely when the doctor told them the heart attack caused no brain damage or long-term memory loss.
“How does one say thank you when there just aren’t words,” Ann shared in a thank-you card she wrote to Steven shortly after Jack’s release.
“God sent me an angel named Steve who coached me on CPR and we got Jack’s breath back twice, which the emergency doctor said saved Jack’s life,” Ann wrote, adding that Jack was doing “so well.”
The letter sincerely conveyed the family’s heartfelt gratitude to Steven, but Ann and Jack still wanted to thank him in person. On September 10th, they got their wish. The hugs and tears of gratitude embraced everyone in the moment, made extra special when Ann and Jack presented Steven with a Lifesaver pin, an honour bestowed upon ECOs who help save a life.
9-1-1 is indeed a lifeline when someone’s health or safety is at risk. As the first of the first responders, 9-1-1 serves as that critical link between citizens and the emergency help they need. With over one million calls a year and an average answer time of six seconds, your 9-1-1 is one of the largest Public Safety Answer Points in Canada.
Learn more about 9-1-1 at calgary.ca/911 including tips on when and how to call, and how to prevent accidental calls.