On July 30th, four officers from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) stationed at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) were instrumental in saving a man’s life after he collapsed and became unconscious with no pulse. The quick reaction of these four officers along with the response from many others was an extraordinary demonstration of teamwork from the greater YVR community. This month’s On Approach profile features CBSA Superintendent Colin Orie, Superintendent Jagdeep Johal, Officer Chris Mota and Officer David Q. Lee recounting the response effort from their combined perspectives.
Superintendent Johal: I was dealing with another matter when I heard the request for a Superintendent to attend the point area over the radio. Nothing more was said over the radio other than that request, but I could tell from the voice over the radio that something out of the ordinary was going on.
Superintendent Orie: Superintendent Johal, Officers Chris Mota and David Q. Lee, and myself arrived and the officer who called for assistance informed us that an individual was in medical distress in the carousel area.
Officer Lee: My first reaction was to attend to the person on the ground immediately and to probe for injuries and attempt to establish verbal communication with the person.
Officer Mota: Officer Lee said that we needed to do CPR. I then started doing chest compressions. This was my first time administering it to a victim. With each pump, I just kept thinking that I couldn’t let him die. There were many emotions going through my head, but my main priority was to keep doing the chest compressions. I don’t know how many I did before the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was administered.
Superintendent Orie: I retrieved the AED from the wall nearby, and we connected it to the man. Officers continued with chest compressions and rescue breaths, but a pulse could still not be located and the man was still not breathing. The AED instructed that a shock was necessary. CPR was stopped and I administered a shock. The officers resumed CPR as the traveller still did not appear to be breathing.
Officer Mota: Superintendent Johal then went to grab a face mask to place over the gentleman’s face and administered one large breathe. I saw the gentleman’s diaphragm fill up and I administered more chest compressions
Superintendent Orie: With one of the chest compressions, the man finally gasped deeply and began breathing on his own. He was still not alert, but he was breathing on his own again.
Officer Mota: At this point, I had my hand in his hand and asked him if he could hear me. I asked him to squeeze my hand if he could, but he didn’t squeeze. I thought that maybe he was brain dead, that maybe we were too late. I kept asking him if he could hear me. I had a flashlight and shone the light into his eyes. The AED then asked for everyone to stand back. I thought it was going to give the gentleman another shock, which I was afraid of, since he was breathing on his own and had a pulse. After it detected a heartbeat, we placed him back into recovery position.
Superintendent Orie: EMS arrived shortly thereafter and took over. Before they transported him to hospital, he was alert and responding to questions. When we heard his voice for the first time, we were definitely relieved.
Superintendent Johal: After this experience I can say for certain that the eyes are a window for the soul. I literally saw the life leave his body when his pulse stopped and the life come back when he started breathing again.
Officer Mota: The gentleman is currently in VGH and is recovering. I have called to give our best wishes for his speedy recovery.
Officer Lee: Our Agency’s training helped prepared us for emergencies such as this situation. It trained us to remain calm and collected, assess the situation, and act promptly and appropriately according to what is happening in front of us. The training we received gave us the skills to interpret the situation and make the best decision at the time for the person in need of assistance.
Officer Mota: The training that all of our officers receive is paramount as officers and public servants in order to assist the general public whenever the situation arises. I was thankful that I was there and able to help.
Superintendent Johal: The training that I have received helped, but I am thankful to the other officers that were there on the scene. When you are in an emergency situation your body starts pumping adrenaline and I can sincerely say that you start forgetting things. We worked as a team and talked the situation through as we went through all the steps applying CPR and using the defibrillator machine.
Superintendent Orie: CBSA officers deal with challenging and dynamic situations repeatedly in the course of a shift. I was very proud of everyone involved. Everybody did exactly what needed to be done, exactly when it need to be done. Nearly three years ago, when my son was two, he stopped breathing early one morning as the result of an extreme febrile seizure. I had never heard of febrile seizures before, let alone was I able to recognize one. I gave my son CPR and he began breathing again. He spent a week in hospital then, and is the picture of health now. I remember how grateful I was at the time for the on the job first aid training that I had received.
Officer Lee has worked for CBSA for four and a half years, stationed at YVR. Officer Lee enjoys the “opportunity to make a difference by ensuring national security protocols are met and conducted in a professional manner.”
Officer Mota has worked with CBSA for the past six years (all of which have been at YVR). “The one thing I enjoy most in my line of work is talking to people and getting to know different cultures.”
Superintendent Johal has worked for CBSA for 10 years and has spent his entire career at YVR. “The truth of the matter is that working for CBSA is actually fun,” says Superintendent Johal. “ I’m one of those people that walks into work every day and say ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this!’ Being posted at the airport means I get to meet people from all over the world and I’m able to make decisions that impact people’s lives. Every day on the job presents new challenges, and there is a lot of satisfaction knowing that the work I do serves the greater good.”
Superintendent Orie has worked for CBSA for 12 years, all of them spent at YVR. “No two days are ever the same,” says Superintendent Orie. “On any given day, we are intercepting narcotics, child pornography, effecting arrest warrants or preventing criminals from entering Canada. Later that same day, we could be recovering a kidnapped child, providing first aid to someone in distress, facilitating the reunion of families or welcoming a future Canadian to their adopted country for the first time.”
Officer Lee, Superintendent Johal and Officer Mota. Superintendent Orie is pictured above.