Winnipeg woman speaks out after husband’s heart stops, AED malfunctions

Kim Sawatzky and her husband Steve celebrating their wedding day. Submitted

For 15 days Kim Sawatzky’s husband, Steve, has been recovering in hospital after suffering from a cardiac arrest.

The couple was with their two children, ages 4 and 6, and a group of Steve’s firefighter and paramedic colleagues at Tinkertown Family Fun Park on July 5 when he suddenly collapsed.

“I was terrified that that Steve wasn’t going to come back and that was the last way the kids were going to see him, on the ground,” said Kim. “I could hear in the distance, no pulse, no pulse and they kept working on him.”

READ MORE: Terrifying incident in Manitoba prompts reminder on checking your safety devices

She remembers seeing a circle form around her 43-year-old firefighter husband. The people in the circle were focused, calm and working to save his life. The group tried to use an AED that was at the amusement park, but it malfunctioned.

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“I was shocked to hear that it wasn’t working but then the fire truck and the ambulance came and they had a working unit,” she said.

Kim Sawatzky, her husband Steve and their two kids near Christmas. Submitted
Kim Sawatzky and her husband Steve. Submitted
Steve during a soccer game. Subm
Steve with his two kids at his fire station. Submitted

The firefighters and paramedics did CPR on Steve for close to an hour as he was rushed to the hospital where he remains, recovering and getting better every day. Kim credits the quick action of the firefighters and paramedics who rushed in to save her husband’s life.

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“Thank you is not good enough. They saved his life and we are just forever grateful,” she said.

“When I tell Steve what had happened and what everyone did for him — the firefighters the paramedics, he gets very overwhelmed. He’s so grateful for everything that they’ve done for him.”

Following the incident, Tinkertown told Global News in a statement that their AED unit was always flashing green, which means ready and assumed it was functioning. The business has since replaced all batteries in the unit and it is now operational.

RELATED: ‘Quicker access, better survivability:’ EMS reminding rural Manitobans about importance of AEDs

AEDs are mandatory in high-traffic public places such as gyms, rinks, community centres and schools. Right now there are about 3,800 AEDs registered in the province, more than 2,100 of them are in Winnipeg.

They cost anywhere between $1,500 and $2,500 to buy. Their batteries and the pads on them can expire so owners are asked to check them regularly.

Kim believes more people should brush up on their knowledge of CPR and that more AEDS should be placed in public places.

“It would be fantastic if more public places and companies would have an AED should someone need it,” she said.

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The Heart and Stroke Foundation is hosting a free event on Sunday, August 27 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at The Forks to teach people how to use an AED and learn CPR.

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