Bruce Roberts remembers thinking he used the wrong club after hitting his third shot on the par-5 ninth hole on The Ridge track at Predator Ridge Golf Resort.
Roberts, 70, was playing in a Members’ Day men’s event on the morning of April 26, a Wednesday, with fellow resort residents Stan Brooks, David Clarke and Tom Keller. He was about 120 yards out, the last to hit, and used an 8-iron for his approach. Brooks had taken a cart up to the green. Keller was in the other cart and Clarke began walking toward the green.
Clarke then heard a thump. He turned and Roberts had vanished. Clarke took a couple of steps toward a bush on the hole, bordering the cart path, and saw Roberts lying on the ground, unconscious. Without any warning, Roberts had suffered a heart attack.
Clarke’s cell phone was in his golf bag, which was with Brooks up on the green. Keller had his phone but was nearly out of battery power. Clarke and Keller called 911 and began yelling for Brooks to come back.
“I thought they needed a golf club,” said Brooks, 64, alerted to the seriousness of the situation as he approached his playing partners. The retired 35-year RCMP member had Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training as an officer, but never put it to use.
He did that morning.
Brooks spent about 20 minutes administering CPR to Roberts when Predator Ridge landscape manager Beau Lucas happened on the scene. Lucas, 29, a native of Canberra, Australia, has Level 3 CPR expertise. He is also a volunteer firefighter at Silver Star and with the City of Vernon. Lucas took over CPR from Brooks.
Call-taker Jeff Zimmermann dispatched paramedics Amy Morrison, 27, and Mike Havard, 60, both from Salmon Arm, to the scene.
Being on the ninth hole on The Ridge course, the five men were the farthest they possibly could be away from one of Predator’s four automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) which are located at the clubhouse and at the fire hall.
Morrison and Havard were met by members and taken to the scene – Havard, a 30-plus year paramedic, drove the ambulance over the course’s hilly terrain. Roberts was still unconscious, and Brooks and Lucas were still administering CPR. Morrison took over, using the AED three times on Roberts but with no luck. On her fourth attempt, Morrison detected a faint heart rhythm. Roberts’ heart had started and he slowly regained consciousness.
His first words were to his lifesavers.
“Is it OK now just to say thank you?” said Roberts, who was assured by all that it was. Roberts was transported to Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s intensive care unit, where he was looked after by staff until his recovery.
On Friday, Roberts and his wife, Therese, had a chance to reunite with his lifesavers at the B.C. Emergency Health Services’ Vernon Ambulance Station, and to watch as Brooks and Lucas were presented BCEHS Vital Link Awards for saving Roberts’ life, nominated by Morrison and Havard.
“The award is very humbling for me,” said Brooks. “I’m just pleased everything worked well that day. There was a lot of people that day, aside from myself, that made it a successful lifesaving event.”
Added the soft-spoken Lucas: “It’s a great honour, very humbling.”
The Vital Link Award is presented by BCEHS to honour the skillful actions of one or more bystanders in a cardiac emergency.
Loyd Ondang is the North Okanagan district manager for the B.C. Ambulance Service who had the pleasure of presenting the awards. He encouraged everyone to learn CPR.
“CPR is a combination of rescue breathing and chest compressions that keep blood circulating to the person whose heart has stopped breathing naturally,” said Ondang. “It can be administered by anyone who has basic training or is coached by somebody like Jeff Zimmermann over the phone.
“CPR needs to be started quickly to get a good survival rate. That’s why Mr. Roberts is here today.”
And if ever there was a poster boy for the benefits of CPR training, it’s Roberts.
“I owe my life to these two guys and to Amy and Mike,” said Roberts, a retired information technologist who played a major role in having the Bailey Road turnoff to Predator Ridge on Highway 97 made safer. “I really want to promote that everyone learns CPR and not only learns the skill but has the commitment to put it into practise.
“CPR is not enough. Learn how to use a defibrillator, too. Those are skills that everyone should learn. I wouldn’t be alive if these two guys didn’t have the skills.”