'Survivor Day' reunites paramedics with the people they saved

Survivors of trauma and cardiac arrest from Windsor and Essex County reunited with the people who saved their lives on Friday afternoon.

The 9th Annual Essex-Windsor EMS Survivor Day returned to the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts after a two year hiatus due to COVID-19.

“It's been a long 26 months. They've been asking about this day,” says Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter.

First responders from across the region look forward to the event, according to Krauter.

“It's kind of a reward of sorts having been locked up for 26 months dealing with the grind day in and day out,” he says. “And now it's hopefully we're getting there but again, the paramedics, the support staff, everybody working tirelessly for 26 months, this is just a little bit of a celebration for them.”

Survivor Day is an event that celebrates survivors of trauma and out of hospital cardiac arrest (OOHCA) and provides an opportunity for survivors to share their stories and reunite with paramedics, fire fighters, police services, ambulance dispatchers and community members who played a role in their survival.

Kyle Tazzman was among several survivors who was joined by his family for the emotional event.

“I was getting ready to go to a Detroit Lions game and I collapsed in a parking lot,” says Tazzman.

Tazzman and his wife Kristin Gallant recall December 2019 when Tazzman went into cardiac arrest. “Luckily for me, I had people around me who knew what to do,” says Tazman. “They were able to initiate CPR and wait for the first responders to come to get me to this stage.”

When the paramedics and firefighters arrived, they took over caring for Tazzman. The paramedics inserted an artificial airway and an IV, continued CPR, and administered five shocks, as well as life-saving drugs, to restart Kyle’s heart.

Tazzman said he was eventually flown to London Health Sciences Centre to have an internal cardiac defibrillator implanted and spent two weeks in hospital.

Tazzman explained he thinks of his family every single day since.

“Be thankful for every moment you have, that don't take it for granted. Every single minute.”

Captain Stacey Shepley with Essex-Windsor EMS said Survivor Day show the value of the paramedic and the hard work they do to keep people alive.

“But seeing the survivor with their families and their second chance at life is honestly I can't put words to that,” Shepley told CTV News. “Don't be afraid to step in, learn how to do CPR, go do your class.”

Shepley said Survivor Day also serves as a reminder for people to learn life saving skills, noting teenagers and bystanders were among those also honoured Friday for life-saving efforts.

“Those public access defibrillators, a majority of the ones that we see, those are our saves. You get that d-fib to that patient's side as soon as possible and you get your hands on that chest as soon as possible, you give them the best chance possible of surviving.”