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Rapid response saves Ladner teen's life
On a pleasant July 8 evening Ladner's Jackson Goodman was watching soccer at Holly Park and joking around with his friends, like any normal 13- year-old on summer vacation.
Around 10 p.m., the youths gravitated towards the local McDonald’s on Ladner Trunk Road, where Jackson randomly ran into another friend, Mitch Winter, 16, who had been watching lacrosse nearby.
A clean-cut, lanky guy with light blue eyes, Jackson approached the counter to order some grub. But he fell short, his face and body hitting the floor.
From where he was seated, Winter witnessed his friend’s body shaking uncontrollably on the ground. He rushed to Jackson’s side and then saw his face.
“It was scary. I literally saw the life leave his eyes,” recalls Winter.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s employee Shane Symons was just going on his break when the incident arose.
“The first thing I noticed was that he [Jackson] was ridiculously pale,” says Symons.
That’s when the 21-year-old sprung into action, having never been exposed to such a critical situation before. He placed the obligatory call to 911.
But it’s what happened in the following 10 or so minutes that quite possibly saved a young boy's life.
The 911 dispatcher on the other end of the phone coached Symons on CPR. Winter was recruited to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Jackson—who at that point had a faint pulse but was not breathing—while Symons took care of the chest compressions.
“Seeing a kid that I know literally dying— my gut instinct kicked in,” says Winter.
While the two worked on Jackson, his brother Eric, who was at that same lacrosse game a couple minutes away, was notified of his condition. A hysterical Eric, after seeing his brother lying there lifeless on the tiled McDonald’s floor, quickly called their mom.
Cathie Goodman was readying herself for bed when her cell phone rang.
“I knew from [Eric’s] voice that it wasn’t good,” she says.
Entering the McDonald’s in her pajamas, Cathie collapsed to her knees. She laid at her son’s feet and started praying.
Simultaneously, a makeshift prayer circle formed around Jackson from his Ladner Christian Fellowship youth group friends who he had been out with that evening.
“We all just leaned over him and starting praying,” says Cathie. It was pretty intense. A lot of emotions from a lot of our kids. As a Christian, I knew God was all I had. That he could fix my son. He placed guardian angels around my son.”
After a seemingly endless five minutes Jackson began taking huge gasps of air. However, his rescuers didn’t breathe a sigh of relief, not knowing if it was a good or bad sign.
Once paramedics and Delta Fire officials arrived on the scene, Symons was able to take a step back and put it all into perspective.
“It made me think life is precious,” he says.
Making a recovery
Jackson woke up in BC Children’s Hospital two days after his health scare known as sudden cardiac death syndrome.
According to the Canadian Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation, an estimated 700 children and young people die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions each year in Canada without notice.
A seemingly healthy teenager, Jackson doesn’t remember much from the day of that unforgettable episode.
On Tuesday, sitting inside the McDonald’s, mere feet away from where he collapsed, Jackson appears collected—the picture of health.
Under his skin, the situation is a little more complicated. A pacemaker is ensuring the electrical components of Jackson’s heart keep time properly.
“I’ll be more careful with my heart now,” he promises.
When asked how he feels after having a near-death experience, Jackson laughs.
“It’s just kind of nuts because I didn’t expect it to be this early,” he says.
Winter chimes in nodding in agreement, saying Jackson and his brother are so athletic.
Besides being sidelined for six more weeks from sports, the only other impediment to Jackson’s regular routine will be a check in with the doctors twice a year.
Today Jackson and his mother are reuniting with Symons for the first time since that fateful evening. Looking towards the two young men who performed CPR, an emotional Cathie says she is thankful they were there.
“They are going to have a second mother for the rest of their lives,” she added. “You can’t really articulate that kind of gratitude.”
The Ladner community—the family’s church, Ladner Minor Baseball, neighbours and friends—has rallied around the family like you wouldn’t believe, says Cathie seen below with her son and friends at the McDonald's where he collapsed.
During Tuesday’s reunion, the topic of CPR comes up. Cathie is now pushing for young people to be trained on the life saving measure.
“I think it will empower kids, if they know CPR,” she says.
Symons, who had no formal CPR experience other than what he learned in gym class years ago, said he will definitely do more training.
His boss, Ladner McDonald's owner Steve Krawchuk, is singing Symons' praises after learning of the incident.
"This kid is incredible," says Krawchuk. "He's the type that the customers say you should move into management. He's a superstar."
That is exactly what Krawchuk is in the process of doing—grooming Symons, an aspiring actor, for a management role at the restaurant.
As for Winter, whose own dad suffered a heart attack last summer, he wants to be signed up for CPR too.
"Yeah I will take a course and become legit," he says.
Saving a life in a heartbeat
• Those minutes following a cardiac arrest are critical to the health and survival of a patient.
If bystander CPR is performed immediately, a patient has a much better chance of recovering without suffering any brain damage.
• BCAS estimates that only 15 per cent of British Columbians know CPR.
Even with the most advanced technology, medical expertise, and quick response times, the best chance of survival for someone who has a cardiac arrest is still bystander CPR.
• CPR can be administered by anyone who has had basic training or is being coached by someone who is trained.
• BC Ambulance Service attends between 2,400-2,800 cardiac arrest calls each year. Approximately 1,000 are in the Lower Mainland.
—Source: B.C. Ambulance Service