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Princeton-area man credits Facebook group with helping save his life

Princeton-area Facebook group responds to emergency request
When a Princeton-area woman couldn't get through to 911, she turned to social media for help. She's now crediting people in a Facebook group with acting quickly and helping to save her husband's life. Jules Knox reports.

When Heather Balaam called 911 from her rural home because her husband was having a heart attack, she couldn’t get through.

“Our cellphone service is so intermittent, it wouldn’t put a signal through,” she said. “And it’s like, oh my god, what do I do now, what do I do now?”

Balaam and her husband, Che Lapointe, live in a remote location along a forest service road in the Princeton area.

The couple doesn’t have a landline, but they do have access to the Internet.

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“My first thing was to go on Facebook and ask people for help,” Balaam said. “And I typed it in capital letters.”

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In Princeton’s rants, raves and issues group, she pleaded for somebody to call 911, listing her location and that her husband was having a heart attack

“And apparently four different people phoned in for an ambulance to come for me,” Lapointe said.

But he still had to wait nearly 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

“That was, for me, I think, the scariest point, was sitting there waiting for the ambulance because I really thought I was going to die right there,” Lapointe said.

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In the meantime, some nearby loggers offered Lapointe aspirin, which was something the couple couldn’t find in their own house.

“We have five bathrooms where we live, and there wasn’t an aspirin in any of them. We have first aid kits, and no aspirin there either,” Lapointe said.

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The couple is now reminding other people to ensure their medicine cabinets are stocked with aspirin.

“Have them, even if you’re 35 years old, have them because your mother or your grandmother or the man on the street might collapse and need them,” Balaam said.

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“I’m putting aspirin everywhere. In the truck, in the house, every bathroom. Every first aid kit,” Lapointe added.

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Lapointe is now recovering in Kelowna General Hospital, hoping to return home soon. He credits the quick response of people in the Facebook group with playing a big role in helping him get help so quickly.

“I knew somebody would help. I didn’t know who. I didn’t care who. But I knew somebody would help. And I think that’s a miraculous thing,” Balaam said.

Lapointe said he blamed smoking for his heart attack.

“And I’m done. Never again will I ever put a cigarette on these lips,” he said. “Because this is the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

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