The evening in February began as a celebration of the Okotoks Dawgs baseball team at its annual banquet dinner – and ended early when the guest speaker had a medical emergency.
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame member and renowned sports journalist and author Bob Elliott was just minutes into his speech when he went into cardiac arrest and lost consciousness.
The Dawgs Athletic Therapist Savannah Blakley and team photographer Angela Burger jumped in to action, quickly assessing the situation and administering CPR. Dawgs Academy Coach Lou Pote ran and grabbed the AED.
After CPR and shocking Elliott’s heart twice, he was brought back to life and spent the next two weeks at Foothills Hospital in Calgary.
Elliott wanted to make sure Blakley and Burger were recognized and nominated them for the Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Award.
“It was a very moving experience,” Elliott recalls. “I will be thinking about them when I see my three grandchildren arrive from Moncton. The only reason I’m seeing them is because of these people so, I’m truly a lucky man.”
Blakley and Burger have taken first aid and CPR training with the Red Cross. It was the first time Burger had used it.
“I have never had to use my training before. It was a little bit surreal. Its not what you think its going to be like,” Burger explains. “But Bob survived and that’s really all that matters.”
Both women were honoured to be nominated. Blakley said it was a surprise and like Burger, was grateful Bob survived.
“Its amazing because Bob is here.” Blakley continued, “It means quite a bit to receive the award and knowing that our training with CPR and everything like that works to save a life.”
The experience was profound for all involved. The Dawgs Academy coach Lou Pote says it has given him a greater appreciation of how to live every day.
“Its been really good the way it changed for me, especially being a father. It made me appreciate a lot of things and not take everything so seriously.”
Elliott is feeling well and continues his recovery. “I had angels around me.”
The awards were presented to Blakley and Burger at the Okotoks Dawgs home game on July 30. The Red Cross offers a range of first aid and CPR courses for the general public, workplaces, schools and organizations.
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