A seven-year-old man saved from cardiac arrest at the wheel of his car in Saguenay

A septuagenarian passed close to death on July 5 when he was driving on Deschênes Street, in the district of Arvida, in Saguenay, and fell ill followed by a cardiopulmonary arrest, but was saved thanks to the quick intervention of the police and paramedics.

Olivier Riverin, 75, is now out of danger. His son, Rémi, heard the news late that evening.

“It happened around 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon. I went to the cinema in the evening, around 9:15 I looked at my cell phone, I had lots of messages and missed calls from my mother and unknown numbers. My sister calls me in tears and she tells me “dad is in the hospital, dad is in the hospital,” Rémi Riverin recalled.

His mother also learned it later at the end of the day when Mr. Riverin was not carrying any identification papers at the time of the accident, making his identification more difficult.

When the events occurred, workers who were nearby quickly called for help. The police quickly arrived at the scene, closely followed by the ambulance staff, who were near the scene.

“We were called after a car accident, so we weren’t far away. We knew when we arrived on the scene that it was a cardiopulmonary arrest. The police had already started CPR when we arrived, so we finished our intervention,” explained Catherine Gobeil, paramedic for the Cooperative of Ambulance Technicians of Quebec in Saguenay.

The defibrillator had to be used many times. Five shocks were needed to bring him back to life. Olivier Riverin was in cardiopulmonary arrest for 20 minutes, a period that very often gives the victim no chance.

“It’s quite unusual, usually a cardiac arrest, the chances of survival are pretty slim,” Ms Gobeil noted.

“The first three we didn’t really have any feedback. The 4th had a return that lasted a maximum of ten seconds, so with the 5th shock we had a return that lasted until the end of our intervention”, said Jocelyn Brassard, ambulance technician for CTAQ for 30 years.

“They put him in a coma when they arrived at the hospital. In any case, me, all I kept was that it was in life, added the son of Mr. Riverine.

He comes out of it with no sequelae. The events allowed the doctors to see that Mr. Riverin’s arteries were clogged. He therefore had to undergo a triple bypass on Tuesday.

Although he is still in intensive care and the rehab is likely to be long, he is recovering without complications at the moment and is doing well.

“He’s in intensive care now, but he came back between the two very consciously after a few days. He has become the father we once knew. There he had intervened. I will see him later. He will get out of it,” his son rejoiced.

“It’s the best salary I’ve had in my career to date,” admitted Ms Gobeil, a paramedic for 11 years now.

“We do it mainly for that, and it’s fun to have news, because we often don’t have that much news either,” added his colleague, Mathieu Boulianne.

The latter also reminds of the importance of reacting quickly in such circumstances. It is better to perform resuscitation maneuvers even if you are unsure of the technique than to do nothing.

“Massage hard and fast [au milieu de la poitrine] and waiting for the ambulance crew to arrive. That’s what makes the difference. We, when we do not revive people, it is because the maneuvers are not done before our arrival,” said Mr. Boulianne, paramedic for almost 12 years.

A warm reunion

Mr. Riverin’s son had the opportunity to meet the two paramedics who intervened at the time of the event, as well as the supervisor who assisted them. A moment that was very emotional.

“It’s fun to be able to thank them, I’m also speaking on behalf of my family. We are super thankful we have a dad today to hug. I think we will appreciate his presence even more. It seems that our parents are taken for granted, yes they are getting old… I want to look at the work of the police and ambulance drivers differently. Wow, thanks again!” he concluded.

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