When Carol Klock heard the thump from the shower at 10:30 p.m., she thought her husband Jack had slipped and fallen.
When no more sounds came from down the hall in their home in Port Alberni, she got up and checked on him. “I thought maybe he had slipped and was waiting to hear something, but there was nothing,” she said.
“When I pulled the shower curtain back I thought he was already dead. He was so pale.”
That Tuesday night, April 24, has changed everything for the Klock family, and Carol would like to thank the anonymous 911 dispatcher who answered her call.
“The dispatcher was fabulous and taught me CPR over the phone,” Carol said from West Coast General Hospital, where Jack, 79, is recovering from his heart attack and awaiting transport to a Victoria hospital for further heart surgery.
“I was in shock. Sad and terrified all at the same time. The dispatcher literally taught me CPR over the phone,” Carol said. “She counted with me as I did the compressions, and encouraged me to keep going even though my arms were aching.”
She estimates she performed CPR on her husband for 10 minutes before paramedics arrived at her door. She wasn’t able to lift Jack out of the bathtub, so she was in the bathroom with him until paramedics could lift him onto the floor.
“They performed CPR for more than 45 minutes,” she said. “Forty-five minutes seemed like a long time to me…They never gave up.”
Once they had his heart started again, paramedics took Jack to West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni. He has been waiting there since April 24 to be transferred to hospital in Victoria, where he will receive an implantable defibrillator. He wears a heart monitor now to make sure his heart is beating properly. He was supposed to be transferred for surgery on May 24, but an accident that closed the Malahat postponed his transfer.
Eighteen years ago, Jack had a quadruple bypass operation on his heart. Since then his health has been fine, and the Klocks haven’t worried about his heart. Carol said she has never thought to take a CPR course in the past. She’s elated that the 911 dispatcher—Carol was never told her name—remained calm, which helped her remain calm too.
“They (emergency personnel) told me at least 50 times that the only reason (Jack) is alive was those 10 minutes of CPR before the paramedics got there,” she said.
Jack received very little brain injury due to lack of oxygen, thanks to the CPR, she added.
Both the Klocks are grateful for the health care workers they have encountered since Jack’s heart attack. Their neighbour is a paramedic and has passed along to the BC Ambulance station in Port Alberni their gratitude. She wrote a letter of thanks to a Victoria newspaper hoping that the 911 dispatcher will see it.
“My husband is alive because of all the first responders, ER staff, nurses and doctors and the incredible job they do,” Carol said.
“Saying thank you does not begin to cover my gratitude to these wonderful people.”