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Trio honoured for emergency roadside rescue on Denman Island

Vital Link Award presented to honour skillful actions of one or more bystanders
Greg Valliere exchanges a hug with Greg Slobodin as Rick Windley watches following a Vital Link Award ceremony at the Denman Island paramedic station Dec. 13. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Rick Windley recalls biking Denman Island heading toward the ferry in August 2020 and then waking up in hospital.

On Tuesday (Dec. 13), Windley got to stand next to a few of the people who saved his life as part of a special ceremony at the Island’s ambulance station.

During the summer of 2020, two couples - Greg and Tina Valliere and Rick Windley and Suzanne Chatwin - were on a day biking trip on Hornby and Denman islands. On the way back, Windley fell off his bike and into a ditch along the road after a sudden cardiac arrest.

Greg, who was biking ahead at the time, turned back and began CPR as Tina called 911 and flagged down a passerby.

Greg Slobodin was driving by and stopped at the scene to help. The BC Hydro employee underwent first aid training for years as part of his job but had never had to use it in a real-life situation. He took over CPR until first responders and paramedics arrived and transported Windley to hospital.

As a result of their response at the scene, the Vallieres along with Slobodin were awarded the Vital Link Award - an award through BC Emergency Health Services that honours the skillful actions of one or more bystanders at a cardiac arrest emergency.

Nominations for the award are made by BCEHS staff and presented to citizens on an ad-hoc basis throughout the province.

“Having folks like you three who participated are why we call it the vital link because it is really that - that chain link that allows a person that chance to survive,” said MJ Brownlee, the attending paramedic, at the award ceremony. “It’s absolutely phenomenal and probably feels like a blur now. And it probably was pretty stressful at the time, but you allow us to do what we need to do.”

Tina credited the Island community and how everyone came together and offered an outpouring of support. She thanked not only the ambulance service, fire department and all emergency services involved, but also Slobodin and all the bystanders who assisted.

“I don’t know if that would happen in any other place than on an island like this where people rely on each other. There was such an outpouring of strength and help and goodwill that day.”

Windley said while he doesn’t recall much from the day, he is so grateful to all who knew how to perform CPR.

“That really needs to be brought to the forefront…and that everyone should be made aware of it that it does work. You don’t think you’re going to need it until you need it.”

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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