Okanagan YMCA staff members (from left) Braeden Wallace

YMCA staff honoured for saving a woman’s life

Zumba class participant at H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed.

  • Jul. 6, 2015 12:00 p.m.

A regular visit to Zumba class could have had a tragic ending for a Kelowna resident had it not been for the actions of staff at H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre.

Sharon Flanagan went into cardiac arrest and collapsed near the end of an afternoon Zumba class, back in November, prompting three lifeguards and other H2O staff members to spring into action to revive her.

“I don’t remember anything,” recalled Flanagan. “I looked up at the clock near the end of the class and thought, I am just going to grab my stuff before I pick up my daughter from child minding, and the next thing I knew I was waking up in the Kelowna General Hospital. It is a scary situation to hear a doctor say that if I didn’t have an AED on me within ten minutes that would have been it.”

Four YMCA staff members—Scott Fellhauer, Alyssa Christie, Marte Volk and Braeden Wallace—rushed to the scene as soon as they were alerted to the incident. Fellhauer immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), while the others made sure oxygen was administered, and the automated external defibrillator (AED) was put into motion.

“The AED prompted us to shock right away,” said Fellhauer, a YMCA Lifeguard of over six years. “We continued to do CPR for a while and the AED prompted us to shock again.”

After several ups and downs, Flanagan’s heart eventually returned to its normal rhythm and she started to breathe on her own again. She was then transported to hospital by ambulance.

“It is really emotional,” said Flanagan with tears in her eyes. “If it weren’t for this really awesome group of people, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t think there is anything I could possibly say or do to ever repay them and I think they should all be so proud of themselves.”

The YMCA staff involved received a commendation from Lifesaving Society at an annual awards banquet, held in Vancouver this past June, which prompted a standing ovation from the crowd.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the use of CPR and AED’s during the early stages of a cardiac arrest improves survival rates by 75 per cent.

Situations like this show how important it is to have AED’s available in our community, and for every individual to know basic First Aid and CPR.

Learn more about related courses offered at the Kelowna Family YMCA and H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre including CPR, First Aid and AED Responder—visit ymcaokanagan.ca or call 250-491-9622 for details.

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