Thunder Bay

Nipigon rec centre defibrillator, staff and patrons credited with saving a life

Quick thinking and a public defibrillator are being credited with saving a man's life after he collapsed at the community centre in Nipigon, Ont. this week.

Staff used defibrillator, performed CPR while awaiting ambulance

Staff at the Nipigon Community Centre were quick to use the public defibrillator when the man collapsed after working out on a treadmill. (Celeste Mannila)

Quick thinking and a public defibrillator are being credited with saving a man's life this week in Nipigon Ont.

At about 10:30 a.m. on Monday, a man who had just finished a workout on a treadmill was sitting down at the Nipigon Community Centre. Shortly after, he collapsed from his seat.

A patron ran to get Recreation Director Celeste Mannila, and she called 911. Another patron grabbed the nearby defibrillator, and looked to Mannila to use it.

"He came running back with it, and he said, 'You know how to use this, don't you?' And I didn't answer him because I knew how to, but I had never used it."

She had the first patron speak to 911 operators, she said, while she put the pads on the collapsed man and used the device.

"It shocked him, and it lifted his body probably a good inch off the ground," she said.

After that, she and the operator of the facility performed CPR until the man was breathing again.

"You're pretty shaken up — the people that were in the room plus the other facility operator — because of what you see on the floor and what actually happens. And so I think each person went away and they were thinking about it on their own."

Soon after, paramedics arrived and transported the man to hospital in Nipigon. He was then transferred to the Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay.

She said it was a scary situation, but she knew what she had to do.

"OK, you've given him a chance, like, you felt better but you still think 'Oh my God, he still has a good chance of not making it,' and you're just relieved when obviously the ambulance comes over," said Mannila.

The fitness room at the Nipigon Community Centre, where the man collapsed after a workout on one of the treadmills on Monday morning. (Celeste Mannila)

'Down to seconds and minutes'

Incidents like this show the importance of emergency preparedness, said Wayne Gates, the acting chief of Superior North EMS.

"Paramedics — we do great jobs when we get to the scene, we have lots of skills. But when it comes to sudden cardiac arrests, it really gets down to seconds and minutes," he said.

There is no law mandating that defibrillators be present, said Gates, but emergency services has worked with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to have them installed in as many public spaces as possible, like arenas and community centres.

He said the devices are used about once or twice a year, and they have saved lives.

"It's usually the citizen that's there that, if they can do CPR, if they have a public defibrillator they can access, that is really what is going to make a difference," said Gates.

Officials with Superior North EMS said they have no official word on the man's current condition.

Mannila said he has been moved out of intensive care.


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