Cardiac arrest survivor hails CPR superheroes


(Left) Sergeant Martin Ouellet; Jennifer Bolster, Paramedic Practice Leader; Sergeant Sonya March; Warrant Officer Nicolas D’anjou; Warrant Officer Scott Rose; Chris Millar, Advance Care Paramedic; Jennifer Taronga, Honour Guard. Photo: Acting Sub-Lieutenant Ty Pellerin, Base PA.

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

Warrant Officer (WO) Nicolas D’anjou is convinced real-life superheroes walk among us.

His comments come while recalling the fateful moment when three colleagues from 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron rushed to his aid and performed lifesaving Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

“My heart would stop beating on three separate occasions that night, but I was in the right place at the right time,” WO D’anjou, 49, said. “Although my friends will say the opposite, they are my personal superheroes, my Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.”

WO D’anjou previously worked as a maintenance manager at the helicopter squadron and was on hand to congratulate his friends at a Jan. 15 awards ceremony at Victoria’s BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) headquarters. The ceremony honoured his co-workers WO Scott Rose, Sergeant (Sgt) Sonya Marchand and Sgt Martin Ouellet with a BCEHS Vital Link Award.

The award his friends received recognizes the skilful actions of one or more bystanders during a cardiac arrest emergency.

“It’s nice to be recognized with this award, but the greatest reward for us is to spend time with our friend, Nicolas,” said WO Rose, who works as an Air Maintenance Superintendent.

Springing into Action

During a telephone interview, D’anjou recalled the night of Jan. 10, 2020, when all four friends had gathered at a local pub in Esquimalt. Soon after arriving, Nicolas collapsed in his chair and went into cardiac arrest. He says that moment would change his life forever.

It was the quick action of WO Rose and his fellow 443 Squadron members who performed CPR and helped save his life.

“Nick was telling a story to us, and he is fairly animated so when he stopped talking at first, I thought he was joking around,” said WO Rose.

WO D’anjou was convulsing, and WO Rose determined he had stopped breathing. Sgt Ouellet checked WO D’anjou’s pulse and noticed there wasn’t one. They then lowered him to the floor and began CPR. WO Rose gave compressions, and Sgt Ouellet breathed air into D’anjou’s lungs. Meanwhile Sgt Marchand called 911 and stayed on the line with the operator.

WO Rose, a former St John Ambulance First Aid Instructor, said all three friends were cool under pressure.

“We didn’t panic because we are familiar with the CPR procedures,” she said. “We were so calm and methodical that people at the bar thought we were just doing a practice scenario.”

The pub they attended was crowded that night and did not have a defibrillator on-site.

Only six minutes transpired before paramedics arrived on the scene, WO Rose said. WO D’anjou would suffer two more cardiac arrests under the care of the paramedics. They would eventually stabilize him and transport him to the hospital.

CPR Training needed

During the BCEHS award ceremony, WO D’anjou and his rescuers emphasized the importance of getting proper CPR training and updating it regularly. CPR training is mandatory for Canadian Armed Forces members, who must update their training every three years.

WO D’anjou said he is living proof of its benefits.

“I am pleading with anyone who reads this story to realize the importance of getting CPR training or refreshing it if you have already had the instruction,” he said.

WO D’anjou has been on medical leave since his cardiac arrest and is transitioning into a new career outside of the Canadian Armed Forces because of injuries. It is no secret that he will miss the career he started many years ago. His favourite tasks included working in Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter detachments on deployed Royal Canadian Navy ships.

“I loved my job, and I will really miss it,” he said. “But this has been a new beginning for me, and I truly see each new day as a gift and am looking forward to the future with a renewed enthusiasm.”

443 Squadron

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