Rob Macdonald had a heart attack at Pitt Meadows Arena on Jan. 17, and Bruce Moffat (right), a critical care flight paramedic, saved his life. (Submitted)

Quick action by Trail native saves a father’s life

“For those of you that haven’t taken a CPR course, maybe it’s time,” says Bruce Moffat.

TRAIL — CPR and people who know Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is what saves lives.

That’s the message Trail’s own Bruce Moffat is relaying after saving the life of a father, 49, who went into a full cardiac arrest after a game of hockey in the Pitt Meadows Arena.

“For those of you that haven’t taken a CPR course, maybe it’s time,” says Moffat. “Fifteen minutes of your time could mean a lifetime for someone else.”

Moffat is at the top of his field working as a critical care flight paramedic for B.C. Emergency Health Services.

He now lives in Maple Ridge. Though middle-aged locals will likely remember him from the J.L. Crowe graduating class of 1981, as a junior Smoke Eater back in the day, and as a member of the now-disbanded Trail Critical Care team.

And yes, his parents are Bob and Dora Moffat. Bob is a well-known longtime volunteer in the sports community and a regular fixture in the Spud Shack during Trail Smoke Eater games.

After 35 years working in emergency critical care, Bruce is ready to retire in April. He still laces up, but now it’s in the old timers league as a player for the Maple Ridge Chiefs.

And this is where the story begins.

“I’ve come across car accidents, pedestrians in trouble and things like that,” Moffat said. “But this is the first time where I have been playing a sport recreationally and something like this happened.”

A game between his team and another oldtimer group called the Tri-City Chiefs had ended in the Pitt Meadows Arena shortly after 11 p.m. on Jan. 17.

Moffat was getting ready to hop in the shower, clad only in a towel when a Tri-City player came in asking, “Is this the room with the paramedic?”

“He said we have a guy next door who’s not feeling well, and could I come over and have a quick look at him,” Moffat recounted. “I said, “You know what? I don’t have a good feeling about this. So all I did was throw on my underwear, went next door and found him in full-blown cardiac arrest. He was dead on the floor.”

Moffat turned the man onto his back and immediately started CPR. He asked if anyone in the room knew how to do CPR. Nobody did.

So he told someone to call back emergency dispatch and tell them they need advanced life support paramedics. Then Moffat instructed another player to get him the defibrillator located outside the dressing room.

“Someone got a defib right away, so fast. Then I said, ‘OK, hook it up.’ No one knew how to hook it up,” said Moffat.

He did CPR for two minutes, then hooked up the defibrillator up. But it did not work.

The batteries were dead.

Moffat started compressions again and told somebody to get another defibrillator.

When the second one arrived, he unplugged the pads from the first defibrillator and plugged them into the second one, which was working.

He shocked the man two times.

“I actually tried four times to shock him. The first one, he wasn’t shockable. Twice I shocked him and the fourth time he wasn’t shockable. This is all before the ambulance and fire department got there,” said Moffat.

During all of this, he taught three of the players how to do (chest compression) CPR.

“CPR has totally changed in the past few years,” Moffat explained, noting how tiring chest compression CPR is. “It’s more focused on perfusing the brain and the heart, we didn’t do mouth-to-mouth.”

The Canadian Red Cross recognizes compression-only CPR as an acceptable alternative for those who are unwilling, unable, untrained or are no longer able to perform full CPR. In some cases, compression-only CPR is the preferred method for members of the public who witness an adult suddenly collapse. The issue has recently emerged based on research published in the journal Circulation and based on the scientific evidence released from members of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation.

Chest compressions pump the heart, circulating oxygen already in the person’s body. This makes compression-only CPR suitable for an adult who suddenly collapses.

“I would take a guy and say, ‘Watch what I’m doing. This is what you are going to do.,’” Moffat recalled. “Then I would say, ‘Faster, deeper,’ and I would stand there and watch while I rested. And as soon as they would tire, I would take over.”

By the time ambulance and fire arrived, the man had a pulse again and was breathing on his own.

Within an hour of collapsing, he had stents put in (stents are small mesh tubes used to treat narrow or weak arteries) and spent a few days in intensive care at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

A full recovery is expected, and Moffat was going to meet the man and his family at an oldtimers game Tuesday night.

“He’s going to be going back to work in weeks, it’s an amazing story,” said Moffat. “But if no one did CPR we would have never got him back.”

– with files from Colleen Flanagan, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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