Lifeguards Ryan Uppal, Anthony Mauricio and Grace Marginson (front row, left), along with Gavneet Sabharwal (not pictured), were honoured Sunday at a BC Emergency Health Services Vital Link Award ceremony for saving the life of 14-year-old Alex Romero Gomez (far right) when he collapsed with a cardiac arrest at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex last July. (submitted photo)

Rec centre staff honoured for their help to revive teen who collapsed in weight room

BC Emergency Health Services presented Vital Link awards to four City of Surrey employees on Sunday

Four staff members at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex have been hailed for their work to revive a teen who went into cardiac arrest there last summer.

Alex Romero Gomez, then 14, collapsed while using the facility’s gym on July 16.

To his aid came gym staff member Anthony Mauricio and lifeguards Ryan Uppal, Grace Marginson and Gavneet Sabharwal, who used life-saving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and an AED until paramedics arrived on the scene.

For their quick work, the four City of Surrey employees were given Vital Link Awards by BC Emergency Health Services on Sunday (Oct. 20) at the recreation centre, where three of the four award-winners – Marginson, Uppal and Mauricio – met with Alex.

The agency presents such awards “to honour those who perform CPR during an emergency,” according to a media advisory.

“These brave people represent our link to a patient’s successful survival. For every minute that passes without help, a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest drops by about 10 per cent.”

• RELATED STORY, from Sept. 13: Mom wants defibrillators put into Surrey schools after teen son’s cardiac arrest.

As a result of the incident, Alex’s mom, Esmeralda Gomez, wants automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) put into schools.

“He (Alex) just received one shock and that one shock with CPR was enough to… get the pulse back,” Esmeralda told the Now-Leader in September.

After that, Alex went into a coma for 12 hours. He was first taken to Surrey Memorial Hospital, but then transferred to B.C. Children’s Hospital.

“We were told it was a stage-three coma which is the worst of the worst and he had about less than 15 per cent chance of living,” Gomez said.

When Alex woke up, he was put in the ICU for 24 hours before moving to the cardiology section of the hospital for 11 days.

As of September, the cause of Alex’s cardiac arrest was still unknown. Gomez said the tests came back “normal,” and he’s since had a genetic test done, the results of which will take about three to four weeks.

“As of right now, we have no answer. Nobody can figure out why it happened.”

In a PSA, BC Emergency Health Services says while it may seem intimidating to do CPR and apply an AED, it is not.

“CPR can be administered by anyone who has basic training, and it’s easy to learn,” the agency says.

“CPR is a combination of rescue breathing and chest compressions that keep blood circulating in a person who has stopped breathing or whose heart has stopped beating naturally.

“When you call 9-1-1, medically trained BCEHS call takers can coach bystanders through hands-on CPR.

“Most importantly, CPR and AEDs can dramatically increase the survival rates of someone in cardiac arrest.

“The minutes following a heart attack or cardiac arrest are critical to the health and survival of a patient.”

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