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'You guys acted fast': Citizens recognized for saving unconscious man on Vancouver sidewalk

Gary Mynett: "I think they did save my life."

Gary Mynett doesn’t remember anything about the day he ended up unconscious on a downtown Vancouver sidewalk on the morning of Nov. 18, 2022.

“I didn't get out of a coma until three days later, so I have no recollection at all of the event,” he said. “And when I came out of the coma, I had no idea where I was.”

Mynett, a business valuator in his early 60s, has since pieced together that morning and learned he was on his way to a meeting when he suffered a cardiac arrest. He collapsed face down on the sidewalk, his laptop bag at his side.

Around that time, Veronica Krischke was walking to work at a hotel in the same neighbourhood at West Pender and Burrard streets when she came across Mynett, who had blood coming from his nose and mouth.

“It didn’t look like he was OK, so I asked him ‘Sir, are you doing alright?’ He didn't respond,” recalled Krischke. “So I had a closer look and he wasn't breathing. I called 911 right away and started to look for help.”

Veronica Krischke and Nicholas Van Dyk (far right) were recognized Thursday by BC Emergency Health Services for helping save the life of Gary Mynett (centre), who suffered a cardiac arrest Nov. 18, 2022. Photo Mike Howell

'Craziest timing'

That’s when Nicholas Van Dyk was walking by and confirmed with Krischke that she had called 911 and paramedics were on their way. For a second, Van Dyk said, he thought about continuing to his meeting but then asked himself what he was doing.

“It was the craziest timing because I had just done my occupational first aid level one only two weeks before,” he said. “So we had just gone through the CPR process — and how do you turn somebody over if they've had a spinal injury — so we had just done all of this stuff, so it was really fresh.”

Van Dyk, who works in mining, took control of the scene as a few other people joined to help, one person holding Mynett’s head while Van Dyk performed chest compressions. Krischke was on the phone with Kayla Myles, an emergency call taker with BC Ambulance Service, to take instructions.

“I had Veronica with me, who was passing on all the information to Nicholas and giving those instructions, getting it done and basically just going and doing it in the absolute best way they could before we arrived to take over,” said Myles, who was working at the dispatch centre in Kamloops when the call came in.

Paramedics arrived, stabilized Mynett and transported him to hospital, with all involved that day not sure if the man was going to pull through. So it was with great relief that they later learned Mynett was soon back on his feet.

'Vital link awards'

And on Thursday, paramedics, Krischke, Van Dyk and Myles came together with Mynett at a BC Ambulance station in the Downtown Eastside. That’s where Van Dyk and Krischke were presented with BC Emergency Health Services’ “vital link awards.”

The awards are presented to citizens to honour the skillful actions of one or more bystanders at a cardiac arrest emergency — awards that Mynett said were well deserved considering what they did for him that morning.

“I think they did save my life,” he said after the brief ceremony. “I’m very pleased that I was able to meet them and thank them for what they did for me. I’m sure they would do that for other people, which is great to have people like that in our community.”

Paramedic Troy Gienger, emergency call taker Kayla Myles (far left) with Veronica Krischke, Gary Mynett, his partner, Nicholas Van Dyk and paramedic Dave King Thursday at the BC Ambulance station on East Cordova Street in the Downtown Eastside. Photo Mike Howell

CPR course

Dave King, who was one of the paramedics who attended to Mynett, told Van Dyk and Myles they did “an unbelievable job,” emphasizing the importance of CPR being performed and giving Mynett a better chance at survival.

“You guys acted fast, which was absolutely huge,” said King, who later told Glacier Media that survival rates decrease without CPR intervention from citizens. “So the fact that Nick and Veronica stepped up, made all the difference. It's actually really cool to see. And to be able to connect them [with Mynett] is very rewarding.”

How do Van Dyk and Krischke feel about being recognized with an award?

Van Dyk: “I certainly didn't do it for recognition. But if someone sees this on the news and it gives a person a little extra push to make a decision to do something next time, then that’s good.”

Krischke: “It's just a really nice feeling. Of course, we don't do it just for that. It was nice to do a good thing. I think also because my parents are just really proud. 'Like OK, we raised you right’ — because not everyone does the right thing. It's a good thing to do — like the best thing to do, especially if you end up saving someone's life.”

'Awake, talking, walking'

For Myles, it was the first time she had met a person who was the subject of an emergency phone call. It was also the first time she met Van Dyk and Krischke since the call in November 2022.

“It's fantastic to be here and to see [Van Dyk and Krischke] get the awards and to see our patient here — not just breathing but awake, talking, walking, and I can shake his hand. It's fantastic. It's an honour,” she said.

If there was a common message shared by King, Van Dyk and others gathered in the ambulance bay Thursday, it was that citizens should enrol in a CPR course.

In fact, Mynett and his partner say they are going to do just that — “and if we have the opportunity to help someone else, of course we will.”

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Video produced by Alanna Kelly