Jogger who survived heart attack praises saviours, preaches CPR training

Two months ago a couple of bystanders helped save the life of Gordon Andrusiak, who had suffered a serious heart attack. Now, a thankful Andrusiak and his wife are using the opportunity to stress the importance of CPR training.

'Those are the people that are actually responsible for him being here today'

Gordon and Marilyn Andrusiak are encouraging people to learn CPR after two bystanders helped save Gordon's life in June. (CBC News)

It was a sunny morning on June 14 when Gordon Andrusiak went for a short jog near Neill Nesbitt Park in Barrhaven.

He had a heart condition but had been exercising diligently, and wanted to reincorporate jogging into his routine.

But a few minutes later he was lying unconscious on the ground, with a group of workers in orange safety vests huddled around him.

Adele Gawley, a passing motorist, and Troy Featherston, a City of Ottawa parks employee, worked together to save his life, along with the paramedics who arrived a short time later and took him to hospital.

Two months later, Andrusiak is recovering from heart surgery and doing well. He told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Wednesday that he remembers next to nothing about his heart attack.

Woke up in hospital 

"I remember leaving the front door, that was it. Just going out the front door. I don't remember any of the events. I remember going out the front door and then I don't remember anything for the next four or five days, until I woke up in the [University of Ottawa] Heart Institute," he said.

"It was more traumatic for Adele and Troy, who helped me — and [my wife] Marilyn, too — than it was for me."
An Ottawa paramedic vehicle is parked next to a City of Ottawa truck at Neil Nesbitt Park in Barrhaven on June 14, 2017, where Gordon Andrusiak collapsed and bystanders worked to help save him. (Ottawa Paramedic Service)

Marilyn Andrusiak told Ottawa Morning she began to feel anxious just 10 minutes after her husband left on what he promised would be a short jog. And when 20 minutes came and went, it escalated to concern. She went outside to check the street, saw nothing, then drove around the park and saw nothing.

By that time, her unconscious partner was already in hospital.

When she returned home, she decided to call the nearest hospital, the Queensway Carleton.

'They took the initiative, and he's here'

"And so, within seconds of saying, 'Have you had an unidentified man admitted in the last few minutes and it could have been a heart attack,' I was immediately talking to the doctor who was working on him," Marilyn Andrusiak recalled.

Her husband was quickly transferred to the heart institute, and he remained there in a medically induced coma for days.

We want people to know how grateful how thankful we are to those two people.-Marilyn Andrusiak 

To protect his privacy, Gawley and Featherston weren't able to find out what had happened to the man they helped. But a heart institute employee took Gawley's number and promised to give it to the family, leaving it up to them to decide whether to get in touch.

"So I took her number and actually, we called her that same day. And I believe that afternoon or the next she came over," Marilyn Andrusiak recalled. And in a short time they managed to connect with Featherston as well.

"Those are the people that are actually responsible for him being here today. A hundred people could have been on that corner that morning, but if no one was trained to do CPR, the outcome would have been totally different. But they were [there]. They took the initiative, and he's here," Marilyn Andrusiak said.

"Adele and Troy — we want people to know how grateful how thankful we are to those two people."

Listen to the full interview with the Andrusiak's here.

CPR training saves lives

Gordon Andrusiak said it was interesting to hear the experiences of his helpers when they came over to his home.

  "Troy was quite concerned because he's a strong guy, he was worried that he actually hurt me during the compressions -- he thought he felt things cracking and pushing. But he went ahead and did the compressions, and as Marilyn said, I wouldn't be here without that. And I felt fine," he said.

"Troy and Adele taking that action was very, very important. Marilyn and I have taken CPR courses before and we're going to take it again to refresh our memory on how to perform it. I think it's important that people are able to intervene and take the intiative."