It was an emotional reunion today between an Edmonton man and the three people who saved his life.
Bob Chomyn was having brunch with his family in early March when he experienced what thought was extreme heartburn.
"I've had the odd heartburn before, but nothing like that. It was quite severe, but I just thought it's heartburn. You know, I'm fine," he said Wednesday.
In actuality, the 56-year-old was in full-blown cardiac arrest.
Chomyn’s wife Mary recalls her husband saying "oh boy" before letting out a loud breath and slumping in his chair.
It was this loud breath that was overheard by medical resident Andrea Tamm, who was seated at the next table over with her resident-husband Alex Tamm and good friend Raya Caouette, an ER nurse.
"I heard really noisy breathing, and I knew from my training that’s quite a bad sign — that somebody’s losing consciousness quickly," said Tamm, "so before I could think, I just raced over."
With her husband and friend’s help, Tamm laid Chomyn down on the floor and began CPR with the help of the restaurant’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device.
Using the AED, the impromptu medical team administered controlled shocks to Chomyn's heart in an attempt to re-establish a regular rhythm.
"We’ve done this several times in hospital," said Tamm, "but definitely never in a public setting."
Working together, the two residents and nurse monitored Chomyn until paramedics arrived to rush him to the hospital.
Chomyn and his wife now say that if the hotel didn't have a defibrillator on hand, he probably wouldn't be here today. Paramedic Alex Campbell agrees.
"They say that for every minute you go without CPR and defibrillation, your chances of survival decreases by 10 percent. So a few minutes of inaction can decrease your chances of survival by a great margin," said Campbell.
And as for being reunited with the three people who so effectively used the AED, Chomyn says there are no words to express his gratitude.
"Amazing. Incredible. Unbelievable," said the visibly choked up Chomyn, who will be returning to work again next week.
"Just feel lucky. Extremely lucky," he said.
"It’s great to see them."