UBCO students save life of fellow student who suffered massive heart attack | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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UBCO students save life of fellow student who suffered massive heart attack

UBCO student Kim Davarani hugs heart attack victim Murray Forbes. Davarani is one of several students who conducted CPR for more than 20 minutes on Forbes after he collapsed on campus on his way to class one morning.
Image Credit: UBC Okanagan

An engineering student who suffered a massive heart attack while at UBC Okanagan is incredibly grateful to the campus Emergency First Responder Team who saved his life.

Murray Forbes, an engineering student in his 70s, recalls parking in the student lot, grabbing his backpack and locking his car. He has no other memory of that day and was found unconscious, having suffered from a massive heart attack, according to a press release from the university. UBCO didn't say exactly when the emergency happened.

First year human kinetics student Marissa Burfield, and member of the first responder team, left the gym and was walking through the courtyard to meet fellow team member Kim Davarani for breakfast.

Burfield introduced herself as a trained first responder and assessed the situation. At the same time, Davarani was answering a call for a suspected seizure in the courtyard. She rushed to where Forbes had fallen.

“I was relieved to find Marissa had taken control of the situation,” Davarani said in the release, and explained she began checking for a pulse and signs of breathing. “People thought it was a seizure but when I started taking the vitals and checking his circulation, I realized this is no longer a seizure call. This was about to become a very intense call.”

The first responder team is a volunteer organization that trains UBCO students in several levels of first aid. In return, members are expected to be on duty 12 hours a week during the academic year. There are a variety of shifts and the workload is flexible to suit student schedules, according to UBCO.

They work alongside campus security team and are on-call 24/7 during the academic year, coordinator Kailey Newel said.

Newel was heading to campus when she received a phone call from security about Murray’s incident. She knew something was terribly wrong as they normally communicate via email.

Student Morgan Tucker arrived minutes later. A member of the team for three years, Tucker was on duty and knew the situation was dire.

“We know the statistics — when someone is in cardiac arrest the outcome can be very grim,” Tucker said in the release. It was her job to organize the chaos, direct people to retrieve and use life-saving equipment, and monitor the health and safety of the patient.

The students used all their resources, relying on some bystanders for help. They performed CPR for 22 minutes and used an automated external defibrillator twice to get the patient’s heart beating.

Forbes was sent away in an ambulance and would wake up days later in hospital. Previously, after suffering two earlier heart attacks, he had signed a do not resuscitate form. But on that day, fate took matters out of his hands.

“I’ve always been adamant about DNR because I was afraid I would not be competent if I was resuscitated,” the 77-year-old said. “This time, of course, I was not capable of making any decisions. And it’s a good thing. Those students stepped in and saved my life.”

Forbes received a pacemaker, new medication for his heart condition and several broken ribs, typical after CPR-related chest compressions. He is expected to make a full recovery and plans to continue his studies.

“I was already finding the degree harder than I expected. And being in hospital for two weeks, I missed quite a bit, so I dropped two courses,” he admits. “But completing this degree is something I’ve always wanted to do and I would like to graduate. I’m going to keep plugging along.”

It took several weeks for the emergency response members to learn Forbes made a full recovery.

A few weeks ago, they were reunited and the team members involved were honoured with a letter of commendation by UBCO’s principal and deputy vice-chancellor Lesley Cormack in a small private ceremony. Forbes was delighted to meet them.

“It was like a happy ending and usually there isn’t a happy ending,” Burfield said in the release. “It was so great to see him. He was walking well and was all smiles. I feel that was a cherry on top and it makes you feel it was worth it. For some reason, we were at the right place at the right time and we were trained to do the right thing.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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