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PNE staff, hockey teammates honoured for saving father, son in cardiac events

Harry, Jayson Louie hospitalized two years apart after playing hockey at Agrodome.

Harry and Jayson Louie looked good Monday.

Joking, smiling and exchanging handshakes with old friends, new friends and paramedics, the father-son duo used the word “thankful” many times to describe how they felt as they made the rounds in the PNE Agrodome.

It’s the same venue where they played drop-in ice hockey — and the same venue, where both men know their lives could have ended, if not for the people who quickly responded to them in separate cardiac events.

“I would be remiss if I didn't come and at least say a deepest heartfelt thank you to everybody that was involved in this,” Jayson said.

In what was a truly remarkable set of circumstances, Harry, 77, and Jayson, 52, both ended up in ambulances in two separate emergencies, almost two years apart on a Wednesday at around the same time of day.

Harry was hospitalized Feb. 16, 2022, Jayson Feb. 21, 2024.

In both cases, they had just finished their ice time.

And, in both cases, teammates and a PNE employee named Mike Nasr came to their aid.

Harry and Jayson Louie thanked Mike Nasr Monday for being one of the people who helped save their lives in two separate cardiac events almost two years apart at the PNE Agrodome. Photo Mike Howell

'Then I just collapsed'

All gathered Monday at the Agrodome for a ceremony hosted by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) to recognize the efforts of Nasr, two other PNE employees, including security officer Harj Sandhu and three of the Louies’ teammates.

Each was presented with a “Vital Link” award, which BCEHS hands out to honour the skillful actions of one or more bystanders at a cardiac arrest emergency. Nominations are made by BCEHS staff and presented to citizens throughout the province.

Nasr, a first-aid trained 18-year employee who manages the PNE’s stores, also received a Good Samaritan award for his actions in responding to Jayson, who suffered a cardiac arrest in a hallway leading to the Agrodome’s exit.

'A little fuzzy for me'

Jayson recalled Monday that he can only remember leaving the dressing room.

“This is where it gets a little fuzzy for me,” he told Glacier Media after the ceremony. “I've been told by my friends that I started to complain of not feeling well, and that I had sat myself down on the floor, then I just collapsed.”

That’s when teammates Michelle Preston, her husband Brad Wilson and Matt Heffring jumped into action, with all playing a part in keeping Jayson alive. Preston is previously trained in first aid and Wilson is a former lifeguard.

“He had no heart rate, and he wasn't breathing,” Preston said. “So Brad and I recognized  this and started CPR. Brad ran and got the [automated external defibrillator], I kept doing compressions and was on the phone with 911. Our friend Matt went and got the first aiders.”

That’s when Nasr got a call about an unresponsive male at the Agrodome. He got in his van from his office on the PNE grounds and raced to the scene. When he arrived, he saw Preston giving Jayson chest compressions.

Heffring later relieved Preston.

'His face was blue'

Mark Knowles, the PNE’s operational health and safety officer, was also on scene, with Nasr passing him a CPR pocket mask in an attempt to get Jayson breathing again. He checked his vital signs.

“His face was blue, his lips were blue,” said Nasr, who then cut off Jayson’s shirt and applied the AED paddles in the corresponding spots.

A shock was administered.

It worked.

“I was just grateful to see colour coming back into his skin, and he was starting to breathe and then basically two minutes after that, the ambulance showed up,” he said.

“I didn’t see them having to do more chest compressions, and everything seemed to be heading in the right direction at that point. I could take a breath after that, and I just stood there for a while.”

Also standing at the scene was Jayson’s father, who looked familiar to Nasr. Preston reminded Nasr that it was the same man he helped in February 2022.

“After that, I was kind of like, ‘Wow, what a situation,’” he said. “But I mean I'm working in the same place and they have the same ice time, so it's not like a huge rarity, but pretty slim [chances] that would happen [to the same family].”

Harry and Jayson Louie with Matt Heffring (hidden from view), Brad Wilson, Michelle Preston, Harj Sandhu, Mark Knowles and Mike Nasr Monday at the PNE Agrodome. Photo Mike Howell

Oxygen, AED

In Harry’s event, he had left the ice at the end of the game and was sitting on the bench. He told his teammates that he was light-headed and didn’t feel right.

Nasr arrived, got Harry to lay down on the bench and gave him oxygen. Another employee brought an AED to have on standby.

“He wasn't in a full-fledged heart attack, but he was in the process of having one,” he said. “He was conscious. I had him talking to me. I tried to make him as comfortable as possible, because you don't want him stressing in any way and making the situation worse.”

Paramedics arrived, stabilized Harry and transported him to hospital.

Turns out one of his arteries was completely blocked. Doctors inserted a stent in his heart and — as he said Monday — “I’m feeling pretty good.”

Same goes for his son, whose goal is to return to playing hockey.

“That's the plan, I'm working to get back to it,” Jayson said.

And his father, who is currently playing squash?

“I’d like to, but we’ll see.”

Motorcycle crash

A story that wasn’t told at the ceremony was how Nasr developed an interest in first aid.

It was inspired, he said, by a motorcycle crash he survived Aug. 1, 2001 at 24th and Cambie. He broke bones and it took him two years to recover.

“It was a very traumatic experience,” he said, noting a man he never met was first to come to his aid. “We really need more people to care sometimes. But I also understand that when you're put into that situation, that it’s very hard to deal with and not everybody can stomach it. It's just one of those things.”

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Video produced by Alanna Kelly