‘Citizen Heroes’ Recognized for Saving Life of Canby Man Who Experienced a Heart Attack

Charity Gales, a server/bartender at Rounders, and Kym Akins, of the neighboring business Canby Trophy, didn’t go to work Friday, Nov. 22, expecting to save a life. But that’s exactly what they did.

During a brief ceremony at Rounders Thursday afternoon, the Canby Fire District recognized the two women as the heroes they are.

Canby Fire on Twitter

Life saving recognitions were presented to citizen heroes Charity Gales (Rounders) and Kym Atkins (Canby Trophies) for assisting during a cardiac arrest in November.

According to CFD, the incident occurred when a man collapsed at Rounders that night, a restaurant and bar located on NW 1st Avenue in Canby. Gales and other bystanders quickly realized he was experiencing cardiac arrest, and began hands-only chest compressions while calling 911.

Canby police officers and Canby Fire personnel quickly responded to the scene and also began compressions, while CFD paramedics initiated advanced life support care. The cardiac arrest patient was transported to a nearby hospital by Canby Fire, and ultimately made a full recovery.

Akins, who has sadly witnessed the deadly effects of sudden cardiac arrest in past experiences with loved ones, said she saw the signs right away.

“I just happened to look over, and I saw him sort of seize up a little bit,” she recalled. The man’s son was also there and noticed the problem at about the same time. “We called 911, and we realized he wasn’t breathing. So, Charity actually started CPR while I stayed on the line with the 911 operator.”

The victim was someone she had known a long time. She estimated him to be in his 70s.

“It was good,” Akins said. “Anytime you can help somebody, I think people should step up and do that. I just happened to be there and know what I was looking at, so I think that helped a lot.”

CFD later described the incident in terms of the “chain of survival,” a series of actions that, properly executed, reduce the mortality associated with sudden cardiac arrest. Like any chain, the chain of survival is only as strong as its weakest link.

“The chain of survival involved in saving the life of a cardiac arrest patient begins with early recognition of a cardiac arrest, activating the 911 system, immediate hands-only chest compressions, and early defibrillation by using a cardiac defibrillator,” Canby Fire said on their Facebook page. “On Nov. 22, this chain of survival worked to save the life of a Canby resident.”

Canby Fire teaches CPR classes and provides access to the PulsePoint smartphone app for free download which provides alerts to public cardiac arrests and locations of nearby cardiac defibrillators throughout Canby. Each minute a cardiac arrest patient goes without CPR, there is a 10 percent reduction in survival.

The people involved in this “chain of survival were: Charity Gales, Kym Akins, 911 Dispatcher Kayla Brenner, Canby Police Officer Michael Manns, Canby Police Seargent James Murphy, Firefighter Paramedic Derrick Clark, Firefighter Paramedic Wyatt Brawner, Captain Paramedic Adam Carter, Firefighter Paramedic Austin Holmes, Division Chief Matt English and Fire Chief Jim Davis.

In 2019, Canby Fire responded to 2,999 calls, 14 of which were for cardiac arrest that resulted in 5 lives saved. Learn more about how you can be part of the chain of survival in our community by calling Canby Fire at 503-266-5851 or by emailing learncpr@canbyfire.org.

Photo courtesy the Canby Fire District.

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