South Okanagan man honouring neighbours for assisting him after heart attack - InfoNews

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South Okanagan man honouring neighbours for assisting him after heart attack

Steven St Germain with wife Gail at a recent Brewmaster's dinner at Penticton's Slackwater Brewing. Steven recently survived a heart attack when neighbours came to his aid to perform CPR.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Steven St Germain Facebook page
December 06, 2019 - 2:00 PM

An Okanagan Falls man is getting his chance to express his gratitude to his neighbours and the emergency and health care system this afternoon after surviving a heart attack last August.

Steven St Germain was getting ready to go looking for a new boat at Skaha Marina on Aug. 25 this year when he suffered a heart attack in his Okanagan Falls home.

“It was pretty amazing. It’s a story of good luck, good neighbours, good resources and a good medical system that all came together at exactly the right time and the right way,” Steven says of the actions that happened after his heart stopped.

St Germain and his wife Gail will be hosting B.C. Emergency Health Services, along with several other guests as they present a Vital Link Award to St Germains’ neighbours, this afternoon at the St Germain residence.

Neighbours Kim and Ken Oszinski were key figures in the story behind Steven’s survival, starting CPR and keeping it up until more help arrived.

Steven says he had been exercising on the elliptical the day before his heart attack.

“We were getting ready to go look at boats. I remember feeling stiff and was in the bedroom stretching. The next thing I knew, it’s a day and a half later and I’m waking up in a hospital bed,” he says.

When Gail first saw him lying on the floor, her first thought was to dial 911.

She then thought of neighbours Kim and Ken, and was able to call out to them through the bedroom window.

They came running. Both had taken CPR in the past and between them and the 911 dispatcher, began treating Steven.

Members of the Okanagan Falls Fire Department arrived on scene shortly after, taking over CPR until B.C. Ambulance crews arrived.

“It was around 40 minutes before a proper heartbeat was restored, just as the ambulance was arriving at Penticton Regional Hospital,” Steven says.

Steven was stabilized in Penticton then transferred to Kelowna where it was discovered his “pump worked good, but there was an electrical problem,” as Steven puts it.

He was later sent by air ambulance to Vancouver’s St. Paul's Hospital where an implantable defibrillator (ICD) was placed in Steven’s chest.

“I don’t expect much out of things more often than not, but the next thing I know I have an aircraft on the Penticton runway, then a room on the fifth floor at St. Paul's and couple of days later I’m driving home on the Coquihalla Highway... on Sept. 5, and it’s been great days ever since,” he says.

Steven is a veteran who served in Europe and the Middle East. He says he was much more used to being on the “helping side,” donating blood, and helping others in distress while serving.

“This was a bit of new experience for me in that regard,” he says. "My takeaways from this is we have great neighbours. They say you can’t pick them but you can at least make sure you have a relationship and spend some time with them."

The 63-year-old has been retired for two years, and was unaware of any heart problems prior to the August incident.

"We kayak and bike and live a pretty active lifestyle," he says.

He has since taken up going to the gym three times a week as part of his rehabilitation.

He also paid a visit to the Okanagan Falls Fire Department to personally thank them and let them know the outcome of his medical emergency.

“They didn’t know what the end result was and there was an impression I hadn’t made it,” Steven says.

B.C.’s Emergency Health Services chief, B.C. Ambulance Penticton Chief, ambulance drivers, the 911 dispatcher and 14 members of the Okanagan Falls Fire Department are meeting at St Germain’s residence later this afternoon for a reunion and presentation of the Vital Link award to Kim and Ken Oszinski.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to tips@infonews.ca and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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