A Kitsilano man is on his way to recovering from a heart attack, thanks to two unidentified passersby.
Sixty-year-old Kitsilano resident Gordon McCaw and his partner of 22 years Elaine Bougie Gilligan were driving along Dunbar near 28th Avenue June 29 around 7:20 p.m. when McCaw had a heart attack in the passenger seat.
Gilligan called 911 and was told to take McCaw out of the car and lay him on his back. But she was unable to lift him. As she yelled for help, two men happened to be walking by. The men lifted McCaw from the car and performed CPR as they waited for emergency services to arrive.
“The doctor did keep stressing… that there’s no doubt that the CPR administered on the street before the emergency responders got there are a good part of the reasons for his excellent outcome,” she said.
Gilligan never got a chance to identify the men who helped saved her partner’s life.
“I couldn’t even tell you how old they are, I think one of them had a beard and had a ball cap and sort of dark hair. I was not focused on them at all. I was very focused on Gord and on following the instructions on 911,” said Gilligan.
“I think these strangers, whoever they are, might be really gratified to know that they’re being so responsible and so willing to help has really made a big difference in our lives.”
McCaw posted an ad on Craigslist to try to identify the men who helped save his life. He also plans to put flyers on telephone poles around the area to try and find the men.
McCaw was discharged from Vancouver General Hospital last week. Gilligan said he is doing well, but has some minor amnesia. He has no recollection of the day of his heart attack and has had some trouble remembering certain items, such as online banking passwords.
“You might say a Swiss-cheese effect, certain holes in my memory,” said McCaw.
He said he was a healthy man, with no warning of the oncoming heart attack, except for chest pain that he attributed to indigestion.
McCaw won’t be able to return to his work as a driving instructor until he is cleared by doctors. According to Gilligan, it could be as late as September until McCaw is allowed to drive again, but she thinks he’ll be back on the road much sooner.
McCaw hopes to identify the men who helped save his life so he can thank them.
“I’d sure like to shake that guy’s hand. Were it not for him, I’d probably be in a whole lot worse shape,” said McCaw.
“I can’t believe my good fortune… That still strikes me as like an angel on earth sort of thing.”
In the meantime, McCaw said he plans to learn CPR in case he comes across a person in his situation.
“When I’m back running on all cylinders, I definitely will make a priority to learn CPR… I’d like to be able to pay it forward.”