Nova Scotia

N.S. woman grateful to hardware store 'heroes' for saving husband's life

Michele Coons from Hubbards, N.S., is thankful her husband is alive after he collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest in a Canadian Tire last week. Staff stepped in to help with an AED and by performing CPR.

Employees at Canadian Tire in Halifax jumped in with defibrillator and CPR after man collapsed while shopping

Michele Coons, left, and her husband, Tim Biggin. Coons says her family has a new appreciation for how fragile life is after Biggin collapsed from cardiac arrest while shopping last week. (Michele Coons)

A Nova Scotia woman is crediting the selfless actions of quick-thinking staff at a Halifax hardware store with saving her husband's life last week.

Michele Coons of Hubbards said her spouse, Tim Biggin, was shopping for helmets at Canadian Tire in Bayers Lake when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Security camera footage showed Biggin, 55, looking at some items on a shelf before dropping to the floor.

Staff sprang into action. They used an automated external defibrillator (AED) and performed CPR for about 12 minutes until paramedics arrived.

"We're just so happy to have him back," Coons told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon on Tuesday.

"If it had happened anywhere where there wasn't trained staff members, if it had happened where there wasn't an AED machine, if it had happened at home, I wouldn't have been able to save his life, I don't think."

Coons said all Biggin remembers is walking through the doors of the store and then waking up inside the ambulance.

Doctors said Biggin suffered "very minimal" damage to his heart during the incident, but it could have had a different outcome, said Coons.

She said if Biggin hadn't received oxygen to his brain or blood supply to his heart as quickly as he did, he could have suffered much worse damage.

The day after Biggin collapsed, Coons returned to the store for an "overwhelming, emotional" meeting with three of the employees who stepped in to help her husband.

Biggin is originally from Daniel's Harbour, N.L., but now lives in Hubbards. Coons says the first employee who came to his aid was also a Newfoundlander. 

When asked if the employees had been nervous to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a pandemic, Coons said it didn't seem like they even thought twice about that aspect.

An automated external defibrillator, or AED, is seen in this file photo. Staff at a Canadian Tire in Halifax used a similar machine to help Tim Biggin last week after he collapsed in the store. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

"I didn't know how to express my gratitude. How do you thank somebody for saving your loved one's life? What can you do?" Coons said. 

"They're my angels, they're my heroes. What they did was priceless."

Biggin returned home Monday afternoon and is recovering, Coons said. When he feels well enough, Coons said a visit with the Canadian Tire staff is at the top of his priority list. 

The experience has given their family a different outlook on life and how precious it is, Coons said.

"Just be kind to everybody because you just never know what's going to happen from one minute to the next," she said.

Coons said she will now be looking for AED machines everywhere she goes and plans to fundraise to help equip other places with the life-saving defibrillators.

With files from Maritime Noon

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