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Learn CPR, save a life
Mikhail Morokhovich doesn't remember anything about the day in February when he collapsed on a Coquitlam sidewalk, but he's deeply grateful that two people stopped to help him.
One of those people was Mike Farnworth, the NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam. He and his partner were heading out to Langley when they decided to stop in Burke Mountain to check out some new homes. On the way out Farnworth noticed Morokhovich lying face-down on the sidewalk and knew something was wrong.
They pulled over and called 911; Farnworth ran to the nearest intersection to get the street names for the paramedics and by the time he got back, James Smith was also on the scene.
Together, the two men performed CPR on Morokhovich until emergency personnel arrived. Morokhovich was taken to hospital, and Farnworth admits he thought the man was dead.
"I didn't know he'd survived until much later," Farnworth said. "It's pretty special to see someone you'd thought was dead, and to see them alive and with their family."
Both Smith and Farnworth credit their CPR training with saving Morokhovich's life.
Smith, who spent five years as a lifeguard and kept his certification current since then, was driving home when he noticed Morokhovich and started CPR.
"He was able to be a father to his children again, and a husband to his wife," Smith said. "It's a great thing."
Farnworth learned CPR at a one-hour training session in Victoria two years ago and said when it came time to put the training into action, he couldn't help but flash back to a first aid course he took as a 14-year-old at summer camp.
"It's difficult to put it into words," he said of the experience. "It just makes you feel really happy. Life's short, and Mike's around to be a father and a husband and see his kids grow up."
The Ambulance Paramedics of BC recognized Smith and Farnworth at an event outside his constituency office on Monday, at which Morokhovich and his family were also present.
Morokhovich's wife, Melina, said her husband was always healthy and active; he'd played soccer earlier in the day and had gone home and showered. He didn't feel well and decided to take a walk around their Burke Mountain neighbourhood when he collapsed from a heart attack that doctors call the "widow maker."
"CPR works, and we're just so grateful they stopped," Melina said, adding it was terrifying to think of the alternative.
Her husband spent three weeks in a coma and still has a long way to go in his recovery, Melina said, "but it could have been worse. We're very lucky."
"I'm just very grateful that these two men saved my dad's life," added the couple's 14-year-old son, Cole. "It's awesome."
"According to my doctor, only 5% of people survive a heart attack such as mind and only 1% do not need lifelong care afterwards," Morokhovich said in a release. "Thanks to Mike, James and their CPR training I fall into that 1%. I've been given a second chance that I will cherish forever."
The paramedics who responded to the 911 call, Jim Forsdike and Rob MacMillan, said it was the early bystander CPR performed by Smith and Farnworth that saved Morokhovich's life. Without it, they might have been able to re-start his heart but by then Morokhovich's brain would have been without oxygen for too long, MacMillan said.
"CPR does save lives," he said.
The APBC recommends everyone learn CPR and follow these steps:
• Call for help and look for danger
• Open the airway and check if the person is breathing
• If there are no signs of normal breathing, perform chest compressions — compress the middle of the chest two inches straight down at a rate of about 100 compressions per minute
• Don't stop. Continue until paramedics arrive
To view a short video on how to perform CPR, visit www.apbc.ca.