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'You guys are the heroes, not me': Squamish man awarded medal for performing life-saving CPR on his co-worker

Alaster Osborne receives BCEHS Vital Link Award at the shop where the accident occurred. 

It is a day Squamish business partners Alaster Osborne and Marc Dandurand will never forget. 

Dandurand went into cardiac arrest on Dec. 16, 2019, after accidentally electrocuting himself at the pair's woodworking shop, Squamish Finishing Solutions

Dandurand had been making Christmas presents for his family at the time.

Osborne rushed to Dandurand's aid in the moments after the accident, began CPR and called 911. Paramedics soon arrived, continuing CPR and giving defibrillator shocks as they transported him to Squamish Hospital. 

Dandurand was later transferred to Vancouver General Hospital. He eventually made a full recovery. 

On Monday (Nov. 28), BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), which oversees the BC Ambulance Service, presented Osborne with the Vital Link Award at the shop where the incident occurred. 

BCEHS presents this award to honour the skillful actions of one or more bystanders at a cardiac arrest emergency. Nominations are made by BCEHS staff and presented to citizens throughout the province.

First responders from BCEHS, Squamish Fire Rescue, and Squamish RCMP, as well as Dandurand's loved ones were on hand.

"Alaster gave Marc a second chance of survival, because he acted quickly and courageously. We're so happy to see Marc healthy and thriving, and back at work," said B.J. Chute, BCEHS unit chief of Squamish's Station 222. 

Chute stressed that it is regular folks, like Osborne, knowing CPR that can save lives.

"Over 45,000 Canadians suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year; bystander-initiated CPR with the use of an AED [automated external defibrillator] can increase the chance of survival by up to 75%," said Chute, who noted he has attended hundreds of cardiac arrests in his career. 

Without Osborne's actions, Dandurand may not have survived, Chute said. 

"While it may seem intimidating to do CPR and apply an AED, I can tell you — as I'm sure Alaster can — it is not. CPR can be done by anyone. It can be done by anyone who has basic training, or is being coached by somebody who is trained, such as our BC Ambulance Service dispatchers and call takers." 

Osborne said that he had taken a standard first aid and CPR course he had needed to work on a particular job site. 

He said that certification was likely out of date at the time of the incident, but with the help of the dispatcher on the other end of his 911 call, he knew what to do.

"CPR was something that I'd only done for like 15 minutes, and it just kicked straight back in," he said.

But Osborne deflected praise for his actions and instead highlighted the first responders assembled around him at the ceremony. 

"I just want to thank you... [for] all the work that you guys do on a daily basis that keeps our community safe. You guys are the heroes, not me," he said. "And I'm just happy that the outcome was a positive one and Marc was able to be here and be my business partner today. So I thank you all."

As this incident shows, Chute noted that many agencies work together to save lives in Squamish. 

"We had RCMP members respond, who initially started resuscitation efforts on the patient. We had Squamish Fire Rescue respond, who not only performed lifesaving CPR and resuscitation measures on our patient, but accompanied our paramedic crew to Squamish Hospital, where that care, again, was transferred seamlessly to Squamish, emergency nurses and doctors who ultimately resuscitated Marc, who is here with us today. So thank you to all of the first responders here in Squamish for a job well done," he said.

A message for other workplaces

Dandurand's mom and dad — Ron and Charlotte Dandurand — who flew in from Montreal for the ceremony, are forever grateful to have their son alive and well. 

"You get the phone call at midnight and then drop everything. Our life stopped," said Dandurand's mom Charlotte. 

His father, a physician, said knowing what he knew, a positive outcome was not guaranteed. 

"The likelihood of an out-of-hospital 35-minute cardiac arrest surviving is zero to nilch. So we weren't expecting a lot, but we had to hang on to hope. And happily, the outcome was incredible." 

Dr. Dandurand said that he hopes the takeaway is that workplaces take stock of their ability to respond in an emergency. 

"The message from this whole story should be that places of work be prepared to be able to respond quickly to such accidents," he said, adding praise for all those involved in his son's care. 

"Tip of the hat to the first responders, the local Squamish Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital Intensive Care Unit — incredible."

As a gesture of thanks, Osborne and Dandurand have made a custom dining table, valued at $10,000, for the paramedics, first responders and medical personnel that will be auctioned off to their charity of choice. 

As for Dandurand, he says he feels like he has a second chance at life now and doesn't sweat the little things as much as he used to. His message to those assembled was a simple and heartfelt one: 

"I just want to say thank you for everybody coming out that day to bring me back. I don't really have many words, but thank you very much."

Raw video from the press conference on Monday:

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