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Volunteer Lions Bay firefighter honoured for saving mother-in-law's life

Knowing CPR was the key, says Lions Bay hero Jonathan Wreglesworth
Jonathan Wreglesworth was honoured Friday with a Vital Link award from BC Emergency Health Services for his actions in saving the life of his mother in law, Pippa Phillips, when she had a heart attack in July 2022. | BCEHS

As a volunteer with Lions Bay Fire & Rescue, Jonathan Wreglesworth has been on the scene of medical calls before in the small community.

But he never imagined the day would come when he’d put his emergency training to work to save the life of his own mother-in-law.

On Friday, Wreglesworth, 54, was honoured with a BC Emergency Health Services Vital Link Award for using CPR to help save the life of Pippa Phillips in July 2022.

It was July 5, 2022, and Wreglesworth was about to leave his home in Lions Bay to run some errands when his father-in-law ran up from the downstairs suite to tell him that his mother-in-law had just had a heart attack.

Wreglesworth ran down to find his mother-in-law, in her 80s, unresponsive and not breathing.

“It was immediately evident to me she was in a dire situation,” he said.

As a young boy, Wreglesworth took first aid with Scouts and later repeated some of that training with sporting activities, he said, earning a first aid ticket as an emergency medical attendant.

Continued first aid training is one of the benefits of volunteering with the fire department, which is always looking for new local volunteers to bolster the ranks, he added.

Wreglesworth immediately started CPR while telling his father-in-law to call 911. His colleagues with the Lion Bay fire department were first on the scene about seven minutes later, with a portable AED device, although at the time, those minutes went by in a blur.

After that, paramedics arrived and took over, rushing Phillips to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and their specialized cardiac unit.

Thankfully, Phillips made a full recovery, which Wreglesworth describes as “absolutely remarkable.”

The date of the dramatic incident happens to be Wreglesworth’s wedding anniversary, giving the family two reasons to celebrate.

Reflecting on that fateful day, Wreglesworth said he’s grateful that he knew what to do and was able to use those skills to make a difference. CPR is something everyone should learn, he said. “The principles behind it are really quite straightforward,” he said. “In this particular instance it made a huge difference.”