Heart attack survivors meet with first responders who saved their lives

It’s been just over one year since Mathew Graham was face-to-face with the paramedics that saved his life.

“Strangers came to my house that night and did absolutely everything in their power to make sure I got to breathe the next day. I’m eternally grateful for that," said Graham.

After visiting his doctor in 2021, Graham was told that his thyroid levels were off the charts and he was advised to stop taking his medication. His fiancé performed CPR on him the day he went into cardiac arrest while at home.

Not long after paramedics arrived he was shocked four times. While in hospital, he went into a coma and was put on life support.

“And a few days with some medication I woke up and was able to go home to my family,” he said.

Graham — along with six others — got the chance to meet with the first responders who helped them during one of their hardest moments of their lives.

“Now I get to see my kids grow up. I’m very grateful,” added Graham.

The Middlesex-London Paramedic Service (MLPS) hosted its 8th Annual Cardiac Arrest Survivor Day celebration on Thursday afternoon. The event allowed cardiac arrest survivors to meet the first responders who played a role in saving their lives.

Lynda McNabb went into cardiac arrest on March 1, 2020. After a trip to Costco with her husband Jim, she was feeling unwell. She suddenly felt as if she couldn’t speak.

“I felt like something was leaving my body at the moment,” she said.

She was rushed to the hospital after two paramedics helped get her into an ambulance.

McNabb spent 16 days in the ICU with no recollection of the first nine days of her stay in the hospital. After a difficult recovery, she is now relieved to be able to walk and talk again.

“I want to say thank you to the heroes who worked so hard to keep me going until I reached the hospital,” she said.

McNabb added that she is overwhelmed to be able to be introduced to the two paramedics who helped her.

“It’s been incredible getting to meet her. It closes the chapter on a really difficult call," said Kaileen Brown, one of the paramedics that helped Lynda.

Many paramedics find themselves left wondering what happens to their patients after they are admitted to the hospital.

“It helped knowing that she has survived it, knowing who she was before,” added Brown.

According to MLPS, there are up to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada, which is one every 13 minutes.

Only five per cent of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive.

This is the first survivors' day event that the MLPS has been able to host since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.