Lifesavers were there when it counted
C.B.N. residents honoured for performing CPR on woman in Carbonear
Erin Hodder never expected she’d actually need to use her CPR training after it became a necessity for her job as a pharmacist in order to administer injections.
“I said to people after the fact, it’s something you think you’ll never in a million years use,” she told The Compass last week. “But it’s amazing how you remember what they teach you when you’re in that situation. It’s amazing how it just comes back so suddenly.”
But last July, the Bay Roberts resident faced a potential life-or-death situation head on. Together with a highly qualified individual who just happened to be at the Carbonear Walmart where she worked at the time, Hodder was able to make a difference.
Late last month, Hodder and Harbour Grace firefighter and first aid instructor Paul Snow received St. John Ambulance Life-Saving Awards for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a woman who fell to the ground suddenly inside the store. The awards were presented May 25 in St. John’s.
Snow was out with his wife shopping on that day last July on his way to the checkout when he heard someone call out. He was just then passing the pharmacy.
“Someone else was there, and I asked them to go call an ambulance, and they left,” Snow said. “I was just trying to see what had happened and how she might have fainted, but I couldn’t see no shelves tipped over. There was no merchandise on the floor, and then when I got down and checked her, she was bleeding.”
His presence that day was quite the stroke of luck. Snow has taught first aid for over 30 years and is now in his 38th year with the Harbour Grace Volunteer Fire Brigade. He is an active instructor with St. John Ambulance. Asked how many times he’s performed first aid, Snow replied he’s lost track.
“I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times I’ve done CPR, either through work or volunteer work or being on for events where you’re responsible for first aid,” Snow said.
The situation inside the mall was a bit different for Snow, given he usually has equipment with him, but that proved to be of no concern. Once the pair realized the woman’s pulse was gone and her breathing very shallow, immediate action was taken. Snow looked after chest compressions while Hodder breathed into the woman’s mouth. They did this until paramedics arrived to transport her to Carbonear General Hospital.
“I thought it wasn’t a long time, because the ambulance was really quick,” said Snow, adding the woman still wasn’t breathing by the time they arrived.
According to Snow, most of
“I said to people after the fact, it’s something you think you’ll never in a million years use.”
— Erin Hodder
the time it’s hard to know what happened to people in these sorts of situations in light of privacy laws. However, a relative of the woman he happened to know quite well contacted Snow the next day and said she was sitting up and asking for a meal.
Snow dropped by the Walmart pharmacy a few days later to share the good news with Hodder.
“It was a hard couple of days for me, because I really didn’t know, I really had no idea what the outcome of it was,” said Hodder. “So I’m really just glad that she’s OK.”
Hodder and Snow both feel good about what they did that day. Snow is also quick to credit all the other people who helped that woman survive, including paramedics and staff at the hospital.
Hodder gives kudos to her first aid trainer from the Canadian Red Cross Wayne Young for preparing her well. She was also particularly grateful to have Snow there with her last July.
“He was fabulous,” she said. “He was so calm and so together.”
As a first aid instructor, Snow periodically comes across people he’s trained before who are getting recertified, and he’ll hear stories of how that training made a difference for someone else.
“It’s pretty cool when that happens,” he said. “You know you’ve done something that helped somebody in a crisis.”
Hodder and Snow are firm believers in the value of first aid training, and it was with this in mind that the pair agreed to appear in a St. John Ambulance video last fall as a means to raise awareness.
“There could be someone out there looking after their elderly parents or god knows, a woman home looking after kids who doesn’t have CPR or first aid training, and maybe if it can convince them to do it, then it would be worth it,” said Hodder, who admits to being a person who doesn’t crave the spotlight.
After receiving the award in St. John’s May 25, Snow received a message from the woman’s son that said she’s still doing very well.
Erin Hodder of Bay Roberts receives a St. John Ambulance Life-Saving Award from Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan.
Harbour Grace firefighter and first aid instructor Paul Snow accepts a St. John Ambulance Life-Saving Award from Lt. Gov. Frank Fagan.