Three Metro Vancouver park staff have been granted an award by the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, for their assistance in saving an elderly man’s life.
Park workers Taylor MacIntosh and Rich Wheater, alongside operator Bill Seigrist, were awarded the Fire Chief’s Unit Commendation in a small ceremony on Thursday, applauded for their ability to think on their feet and work together in a high-pressure situation.
MacIntosh had been driving to work on Nov. 7 when he noticed an elderly man on the ground in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, suffering from cardiac arrest. By coincidence, the Metro Vancouver worker had recently completed his Level 3 First Aid training, and was “as ready as you can be” for the incident, he said.
“I instinctively sprung into action, and began CPR while on speakerphone with 911.”
In between calls with emergency services, MacIntosh called on the efforts of his colleagues Wheater and Seigrist, who immediately chipped in to help.
“They sprung into action, grabbed all of our first aid gear, the oxygen tank and so on, and came ripping out on the road to help me out,” he said.
“It was great, we acted as a team.”
The three kept the elderly gentleman alive until the emergency services arrived, and advanced life support was able to bring the man around.
Brian Hutchinson, Fire Chief with the DNVFRS, said the incident highlights the importance of having basic first aid understanding.
“This is one of the things that I can’t over-emphasize with the public: knowing and understanding the basic tenets of CPR really gives us a leg up when we arrive,” he said.
“One of the things that we know is that early application of CPR, in conjunction with early application of automated external defibrillation, greatly increases the chances of survivability with cardiac events.”
Adding how the award is typically bestowed on someone who carries out their duties in an “exemplary manner,” Hutchinson said the DNVFRS team felt it appropriate to make the three “part of the fire services family.”
“They were first on the scene, and they continued to stay on the scene and provide assistance with patient care, crowd control, packaging of the patient and numerous other aspects that exemplified a high level of inter-operability and inter-agency working relationships,” he said.
Now the gilded plaque sits pride of place above the trio’s desks in the Lynn Headwaters office, and the commendation letter, said MacIntosh, is proudly displayed in his own home.
“To be recognized as part of their service team was a huge honour,” he said.
“We just expected a handshake and a ‘good job,’ but to have the Unit Commendation and be recognized as part of the Fire Rescue Service, wow, we weren’t expecting anything like that.”
MacIntosh began working for Metro Vancouver in 2017, stationed at Grouse Mountain, before moving to Lynn Headwaters in the summer of 2021. His comrades have been in the business a little bit longer, with Wheater having worked as a seasonal worker for around six years, and operator Seigrist responding to incidents in the park for close to 17 years.
“I think this is a long time coming for him,” said MacIntosh.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.