Doctor rescues hiker twice after career-making coincidence

When Dr. Corey Adams performed CPR at the side of a Bow Valley trailhead, he had no way of knowing in the coming days he would meet Darrell Parker again, and save his life for a second time as a patient.

When he helped save a hiker having a heart attack on a mountain trail, he couldn't guess they'd meet again

Dr. Corey Adams, shown here, performed CPR on Darrell Parker at the side of a Bow Valley trailhead, only to save his life for a second time days later. (Helen Pike/CBC)

When Dr. Corey Adams performed CPR at the side of a Bow Valley trailhead, he had no way of knowing in the coming days he would meet Darrell Parker again, and save his life for a second time as a patient. 

The last thing Parker remembers about his hike at Grassi Lakes were rock climbers — after that, things got fuzzy. 

His wife, Shirley, says they drove to Dead Man's Flats from Paradise Hills, Sask., and met up with their son and his wife for a vacation.

Shirley said they made it to the top of the hike, and on the way down they all stopped and chatted at a picnic table to eat snacks. Nothing seemed out of place — until Parker didn't make it back to the truck with the group.

Darrell and Shirley Parker sit by the water at Grassi Lakes near Canmore, Alta. (Parker family photo)

"My son Travis said, 'I wonder where Dad is,'" Shirley said. "He went back, and that's when he saw everybody working on him." 

Adams had finished the same hike with his own family and some friends. He was about to drive into Canmore for some food. But traffic was crawling out of the lower parking lot, and his friends in a car ahead told him there was a man unconscious near the road. 

Group effort

Adams hopped out of the car to go help someone who was already performing CPR on Parker.

"We realized he didn't have a pulse and at that time was completely blue," Adams said. 

"All people in the area contributed, a couple people helped with the traffic, we made sure he was positioned properly, made sure the ambulance could get through, that the fire truck could get through." 

Adams said everyone nearby had a hand in the rescue. When the first responders arrived, they played a key role into getting Parker to the hospital. All of those people made his survival possible.

Adams says it's rare for a heart attack patient to survive an out-of-hospital episode, especially one in the woods.

Shirley said he was defibrillated on the side of the road — three times. 

In the moment, Shirley said she was in shock, which is why she and her son stayed strong and didn't break down or panic. Her daughter-in-law was calling other family members to keep them in the loop about what was happening. 

Parker was transported to the Canmore hospital where he was stabilized. Then he was off to the Foothills hospital in Calgary, as his case required more expertise.

Worlds collide

And that's where worlds collided. Adams said he was talking to another doctor who had just finished up a consult.

"He asked me how my weekend went," Adams said. "And I asked him how his call was going. And he said it sounds like you were the guy who did CPR on the patient I just saw." 

Darrell and Shirley Parker chat with Dr. Corey Adams after Parker's surgery in Calgary. (Parker family photo)

He met the family again, and it seemed Adams would be the best fit to perform Parker's surgery — five coronary bypasses. 

Now, Parker is recovering at home with an excellent outcome. Adams says there were no complications.

"This one definitely is going to be one that I'll always remember, and it'll always be one that's career-fulfilling," Adams said.

And the Parkers think meeting the surgeon wasn't a coincidence. 

"When I tell my friends the story, they're saying there's more to it than just coincidence, there's some kind of divine intervention going on there," Parker said. 

The group hopes to get together again and complete the Grassi Lakes hike together, as a way to commemorate their unique relationship. 


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