Nfld. & Labrador

St. George's rookie firefighter rescues man during blizzard

A volunteer firefighter on Newfoundland's west coast is being credited with saving a life on her very first call, in the middle of a snowstorm.
Desiree Foote is being credited with saving a man's life during a blizzard last Friday on Newfoundland's west coast. (Facebook)

A volunteer firefighter on Newfoundland's west coast is being credited with saving a life on her very first call, in the middle of a snowstorm.

However, Desiree Foote, a new recruit with St. George's Volunteer Fire Department, insists it was a team effort that got a heart attack victim to hospital in a blizzard early last Friday.

The department got the call around 7:30 a.m., saying a middle-aged man was suffering from cardiac arrest.

Foote was at home in bed at the time. However, when called into the station, she quickly sprung into action.

"I jumped up out of bed, and put on my boots with no socks or PJ's," she said.

"Where I live so close to the fire department, I just decided to run up there."

Answering the call

Foote said the weather at the time was so severe that it wasn't possible for the department to drive their trucks.

"When I got to the fire department I thought, we're not getting out of here," she said.

In that moment, it just came to me- Desiree Foote

However, St. George's Fire Department Capt. Robbie Tobin showed up at the station with his tracked ATV, and the two set off to help the man.

"I just jumped in, and said let's go," said Foote.

Once they arrived, the man had no pulse, wasn't breathing and was pale.

Foote said they immediately started doing CPR, and she used a defibrillator to administer two jolts.  Eventually he came to, but was in shock and quite sick.

"We got him up and conscious and talking," she said.

"He was up and talking to us, he was laughing at all of my jokes, so he was a good man," Foote quipped on the West Coast Morning Show.

Once the man was stable, the fire crew began working to get him into an ambulance.

Fighting against the storm

Foote said once the ambulance arrived, everyone that was around began pitching in to help clear snow.

"Everyone played an amazing role," she said.

Desiree Foote has only been with the St. George's Volunteer Fire Department for three months.

However, as soon as the paramedics arrived, the man started to have yet another heart attack.

Foote offered to do CPR during the ambulance ride, which took much longer than usual because of the poor driving conditions.

"We did CPR the whole way down there," she said.

"It took another 30 minutes from St. Georges to get back to the hospital."

Foote said that throughout the whole ordeal, they had to administer the defibrillator to the man multiple times.

"He ended up getting shocked like seven times," she said.

First call on the job

The unusual call was Foote's first as a firefighter, having only been with the St. George's department for three months. In fact, she had only just finished her standard first aid course two weeks before.

"If you asked me before that call what to do in those procedures, I would probably stumble and not be confident in my answer," she said.

"But in that moment, it just came to me."

Foote said that last she heard, the man was doing well. According to the department he was transported to St. John's to have heart surgery.

She said that since it all happened, her experience has been shared around on social media. However, she isn't completely comfortable with taking credit for the rescue.

"It blew up on Facebook, I was caught off guard by that," she said.

"I didn't really like my name being out there, to be honest with you, because it was my whole fire department."

Foote credits both the department and people in the town for helping out.

"It was everyone," she said.

"It was my whole fire department, and even people in the community."


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