When you’re running on a trail, the last thing you expect to happen is to have a heart attack. But that’s what happened in April 2019 to Canadian Tom Reddon, who was running when he experienced chest pains. He soon collapsed near Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Luckily, someone came to the rescue, but Reddon didn’t expect it to be someone from his hometown. It’s a small world, isn’t it?
The Unexpected Heart Attack
April 4, 2019, was a normal day for Reddon. He went for a morning run with his best friend, Bernie Arseneau. Both Fredericton, New Brunswick natives, they have run together on a regular basis for the past 25 years. It’s always a fun exercise for them, but April 4 was an entirely different day. On that fateful day, the best friends planned to run five kilometers. But their plans took an unexpected turn halfway through their run when Reddon suggested they take a quick selfie before heading back to their starting location. After taking the photo, Arseneau was putting his smartphone away when he heard Reddon say, “Oh, Bernie.”
When Arseneau turned around, he saw Reddon had collapsed on the ground. Two women arrived to help, with one calling 911 for an ambulance and the other left to search for help. The woman found Sandy MacNeill, who knew CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and could help Reddon before an ambulance would arrive.
MacNeill immediately started the emergency chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation he learned in a CPR course he took a few years ago. While he has never performed CPR in a real-life situation, he didn’t have time to consider that. He had to act quickly. “Tom [Reddon] didn’t have a pulse, so I just made sure somebody had called 911 and then continued to give CPR until we heard the sirens and the fire trucks showed up,” MacNeill said. Reflecting on the memory, MacNeill said it seemed to take forever for the ambulance to finally arrive, but at the same time, minutes quickly ticked by. He said it was “a blur of adrenaline.” The ambulance finally arrived and had resuscitated Reddon’s heart.
Not Knowing He Wasn’t A Stranger
When MacNeill was performing CPR on Reddon, he had no idea the helpless man was from his hometown, but they’re both from Fredericton. When he overheard Arseneau calling Reddon’s wife and daughter, to inform them of the heart attack, MacNeill recognized the phone number’s area code. It was the same as his. He wasn’t saving a stranger; he was saving a fellow neighbor. Once at the hospital, Reddon went into surgery. The success rate for his type of cardiac arrest isn’t very high, but he managed to miraculously survive the serious condition. He woke up two days later. Reddon later commented, “I’m very lucky.”
Since the accident, Reddon and MacNeill met each other in a less stressful situation. It was a “very emotional” reunion, they said. Reddon commented, “We got along famously well, and I think we’ll get together when we get back in Fredericton over a craft beer or two and talk about life and stuff.”
Since the accident, the men’s story has spread on social media, becoming a viral topic. Several Twitter users commented on the special story. One user (@Masada196139) said there are “good people everywhere.” You might just have to look a little harder to find them. Another user (@iluv2count) reflected on the importance of first-aid education. She said, “Yet another reminder of the importance of First Aid training. It’s two days of your life every three years. You could save a life!”
You never know when you could save a person’s life. All you have to do is be at the right place at the right time. Just ask Sandy MacNeill.
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