Al Jones was ready to serve the ball during a pickleball game in December, when things suddenly went sideways for the Sproat Lake resident.
In the middle of a game, Jones collapsed—his heart not beating properly. It was the quick action of other players on the court, including Dr. Dave Ness, as well as the presence of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in the Sproat Lake Community Hall that saved him.
Ness was one of two people to receive a Vital Link award at the Port Alberni Ambulance Station on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Carol Klock of Port Alberni also received an award for giving her husband Jack lifesaving CPR after he went into cardiac arrest while having a shower. Several people who assisted Ness and first responders received Good Samaritan awards.
Vital Link awards are given out by BC Emergency Health Services to people who help save a life through successful cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Good Samaritan awards are presented to individuals who have provided unselfish and humanitarian assistance during a medical emergency.
Tom Oldfield, one of Jones’s teammates, said he and Bob Cole were waiting for Jones to serve the ball on the pickleball court—the sport is a cross between tennis and table tennis, played with paddles, and the Sproat Lake court is indoors.
“I took a couple of steps and thought, oh, a delay of game. He went down on his knees very slowly, and just rolled over on his back,” Oldfield related.
“I’d say Dave was on him within 20 seconds, shirt open, starting CPR. He instructed us on the AED,” showing them where to put the shock pads and how to follow the automated directions.
“Dave checked for breath and said ‘I think he’s coming back.’”
This happened on Dec. 16, 2017, when Jones and his wife Elaine were supposed to be out of the country. “Al and Elaine had only come back from their five months in Mexico in the middle of their sojourn for a specialist’s long-awaited appointment only to have it cancelled while they were here,” Cole said.
“If this had happened in Mexico, the outcome might have been quite different.”
Ness credited the whole team with helping Jones. He thanked Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District director Penny Cote with campaigning to have the AED placed at the community hall. “Thank you, Penny, for having that AED there. That’s really what made a difference with Al. With CPR, I think I might have busted a rib (two, according to Jones), and we only shocked (him) once.”
Port Alberni Ambulance Station unit chief Bruce Patterson said the whole team had a hand in saving Jones’s life. “Everything you did was critical,” he said. “Everything that you did made Al staying alive possible.”
This was the third time in 18 months that Vital Link awards have been handed out in the Alberni Valley, Oceanside District EHS manager Amy Poll said.