True-life lesson as wife saves stricken husband

Top News | Cissy So 8 Feb 2019

A woman saved her husband's life by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation with instructions given over a phone from a fireman.

That was among 130,000 cases handled by the Fire Services Department since it launched a system in October to offer first-aid advice to callers before ambulances arrive.

The husband was Chan, 50, who collapsed suddenly at the family flat one night in November. His wife called police immediately and passed along her address and phone number along with the fact she thought her husband had suffered a heart attack.

Senior fireman Yip Siu-kuen was soon on the line providing instructions to the wife. That started with him asking basic questions about Chan's state.

After acknowledging the situation he started giving Ms Chan simple instructions on how to perform CPR - a routine to pump a person's heart to maintain blood circulation.

The first step was to have Ms Chan lay her husband on his back and the second placing her hands on his chest and pressing to five centimeters twice per second. Yip and Ms Chan counted the compressions together. Yip also kept Ms Chan informed of the ambulance's location and encouraged her to keep going for about five minutes before paramedics arrived.

"As someone who does not have any first-aid knowledge I was able to save my husband," Ms Chan recalls now. "If it wasn't for the instructions I would've just sat there."

Doctors at the hospital told Ms Chan her husband survived because she acted quickly and performed CPR.

Ms Chan said she was not sure whether she performed CPR correctly but she persisted as she was fearful for her husband.

Chan's heartbeat did in fact stop for 10 minutes and he was in an intensive care unit for 10 days.

Ms Chan joined with Choi Yu-fai, medical director of the FSD Headquarters Command's special project unit, in supporting the idea of teaching first aid in primary schools.

"The survival rate will be increased by 10 percent by performing a minute of CPR," Choi said.

The husband, who suffered from chest pains two years ago while hiking but did not seek medical help, underwent coronary artery bypass surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital a month after the incident. He is now making a steady recovery.

The couple has been married for 10 years and Ms Chan said they treasure the time their time together and do not argue over small matters.

They also plan to join a free first-aid course this month and she encouraged others to do the same.

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