Miracle on Main Street

On December 30, 2011 my husband Bob’s, heart stopped while he was shovelling snow in Coalmont. As I was phoning 9-1-1, our neighbour Maurice rushed to the scene with his two adult sons, Mike and Shane. They immediately began CPR. I heard them say there was no pulse or breathing and grabbed our home defibrillator. We had purchased the defibrillator when we first moved to Coalmont because I was always worried about how long it would take an ambulance to reach us if one was needed in a heart emergency (even though neither of us had a previous history of heart problems). I pulled out the pads and froze as one of Maurice’s sons took them from me and placed them on Bob. The defibrillator immediately took over and began evaluating the situation and “talking” to us. A shock was needed, so I pushed the button on the machine as instructed. Mike performed mouth-to-mouth and Shane administered compressions as indicated by the defibrillator. A second shock was needed and upon administering this shock, Bob breathed and a pulse was detected by Shane. Jodi (of the Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department) came to administer oxygen just before the ambulance arrived.

The roads were treacherous that day and it took the ambulance 45 minutes to arrive. Without the intervention of Maurice, Shane and Mike, and the use of the home defibrillator, Bob would be dead. Saying “thank you” seems a pretty insignificant way to truly thank the heroes who saved his life. While Bob was being loaded into the ambulance, other neighbours stepped in to help. Ray took the keys to our motel and said he’d get our guests checked in for me and look after things until I got back. Michelle of the Coalmont Hotel took our puppy and cared for her while I was in Penticton with Bob. Jan gave me comfort, wrote down phone numbers I would need, and helped me gather what I needed for my trip to Penticton. Shane (a man who I had never met before and who had just saved Bob’s life) drove me all the way to Penticton hospital so I could be with Bob. Maurice phoned my children to tell them what was happening. It seemed the locals of Coalmont became one united front to help us in our darkest time. You hear so many stories about incidents in big cities where people in need are just passed by. Not in Coalmont. When help is needed, the locals jump right in. Shane, Mike and Maurice are truly heroes who brought my husband back to life and have given us a second chance. The rest of the neighbours who helped are my Coalmont angels. Bob and I want to thank you all for being there for us.

Normally in a situation such as this, the patient suffers sudden death. The quick actions of Maurice, Shane and Mike meant that Bob not only lived, but he didn’t suffer any brain damage. The doctors are amazed because this just doesn’t happen. Our defibrillator has made the rounds of numerous hospitals because the medical personnel wanted to see the miracle machine. Home defibrillators can be purchased online from Philips. They are expensive, but with an outcome like this I would spend that money over and over again if it was needed. I would highly recommend this life-saving machine to everyone who lives any distance from emergency response. Minutes count in a heart emergency! A ten minute delay is usually fatal. Bob came home after the doctors implanted a pacemaker/defibrillator in his chest. After numerous tests, they said he actually has a perfectly healthy heart, but for some reason on December 30, the wiring in his heart short-circuited. The implant will prevent this from happening again and Bob can continue living a normal life. To our heroes – Mike, Shane and Maurice; to our numerous neighbours for their help and prayers; to the ambulance attendants, hospital doctors and nurses who got Bob stabilized; and to God for orchestrating this entire rescue I send you my deepest and most sincere thanks. We will NEVER forget you and we will never be able to thank you enough.


Diane and Bob Sterne