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Former CPR instructor’s life saved with CPR


As a former Gander firefighter who taught first aid and CPR for more than 20 years, Rod Clarke is well aware of the vital role such procedures can play when an emergency presents itself.

Retired Gander firefighter Rod Clarke (second from left) recently visited the Kent’s Pond Fire Station to thank those who helped him survive cardiac arrest at a St. John’s restaurant.
Pictured with Clarke are (from left) Lt. John Melindy, Clarke’s wife, Christine, and firefighter Richard Hynes.

That point was reiterated earlier this year for Clarke when he unexpectedly experienced cardiac arrest at a St. John’s restaurant. A fellow diner sprang to action and performed CPR on Clarke, and firefighters arrived shortly after and shocked him with a defibrillator.

“I’m fully convinced, as was pretty much everyone else, that without all of those things falling right into place, the outcome for me certainly would have been very much different,” said Clarke, who spent 31 days in a St. John’s hospital following the incident and now has a pacemaker.

“If there’s nothing else I can say to people, if you haven’t taken a CPR or first aid course, do so. It does work. It’s not that difficult to do.”

Clarke and his family were celebrating Mother’s Day by dining at a local restaurant. After taking care of the bill, Clarke experienced sudden cardiac arrest.

“There was no warning,” said Clarke, who now lives in St. John’s. “It was unexpected and the first time anything like that happened.”

Clarke knew little about what took place until two weeks after his initial health scare — doctors placed him on life support when he reached the hospital.

However, he eventually learned a woman who was also eating at the restaurant immediately began performing CPR. Firefighters from Kent’s Pond Fire Station arrived shortly after and began using a defibrillator. Paramedics later transported him to hospital.

After two weeks, Clarke was doing well, but a further series of cardiac arrests put him back on life support. Doctors then decided to give Clarke a pacemaker. He is grateful for the work staff at the hospital put in to help him recover.

“We sometimes will complain about the health-care system, but when it really comes down to the crunch, they did very well and they know their stuff.”

He is now doing much better. Clarke recently returned to work on a part-time basis.

Clarke has spoken with the woman who performed CPR on him, and he recently visited Kent’s Pond Fire Station along with his wife, Christine, to deliver cake and cookies as a way to say thank you.

“I know those always go over well in a station,” he said. “It was more to go in and personally thank the guys for their service and the job they did.”

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

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