Tim Biggins was in Halifax running some errands on his day off. First on his list of stops was Bayers Lake Canadian Tire to pick up a new helmet. Little did Tim know, this would his first and last errand of the day.
Store associate Jon Underhill was working in the sporting goods section that morning. Being the middle of fishing season, the 60,000 square foot retail store was bustling with activity. While assisting a customer, Jon heard an unusually loud crash and raced toward the sounds.
A few aisles away Jon found Tim Biggins face down in shelving, fixtures, and fishing supplies. Tim later recalled that he was reaching for a product on the shelf as he collapsed — and everything came crashing down with him. John called a Code 97 — customer in distress — over the store’s PA system and started moving debris away from Tim. Warehouse manager Sarah MacLeod heard the Code 97 and called 911.
During a staff meeting at the front of the store, J.P. Richards heard the Code 97 and raced toward Jon’s location. After clearing the area, he and Jon turned Tim onto his back. “I looked at Tim’s eyes and felt like there was nothing there,” recalls J.P. Tim was unresponsive and neither Jon or J.P. could find a pulse, leading them to suspect sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
“We knew he needed the AED,” Jon recalls. Store associate Spencer Peters ran for the automated external defibrillator (AED) kept by the cash register, about 350 feet away. J.P. Richards began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) compressions.
When the ZOLL® AED 3® arrived, J.P. immediately applied the electrodes. “You can get intimidated by something you’ve never used before. But we turned it on, put the patches where it told us to, and it walked us all through it,” J.P. says. The AED analyzed Tim’s heart rhythm and alerted rescuers: “Shock advised.” When the ZOLL AED instructed him to, store manager Jordan Bray pushed the button to deliver the shock. J.P. followed the device’s instructions to continue CPR.
All of the associates jumped into action to help. Sarah remained on the phone with the 911 operator until emergency services arrived. Two store managers lined up to do compressions in case J.P. became fatigued. “At that point,” Jon recalls, “everyone not directly involved in the rescue moved into crowd control.” By the time emergency responders got to Tim, J.P. was on his third round of compressions and Tim was beginning to show signs of consciousness.
Repair and rest
Doctors implanted three stents to open up two blocked arteries and a feeder valve the evening that Tim was admitted, and he remained in the hospital for about a week. He’s incredibly grateful to be alive. He’s exercising more and trying harder to eat right. He returned to Canadian Tire several weeks after the event to thank the staff for their preparedness and quick thinking. “Bringing a man back to life is precious,” says Tim.
“If Canadian Tire didn’t have an AED, who’s to say I’d be here today?”— Tim Biggins, survivor”
Tim has a newfound and deep appreciation for publicly accessible AEDs. “If Canadian Tire didn’t have an AED, who’s to say I’d be here today?” Tim wonders.
The associates at Canadian Tire were relieved when Tim returned to the store. A spate of cardiac issues on local hockey rinks and a few employees with heart issues had spurred J.P. Richards to purchase the AED out of an abundance of caution. “I thought it was a good use of funds. Without that AED, I believe that Tim wouldn’t be here today,” J.P. says.
Now he’s receiving inquiries from other Canadian Tire stores on how and where to purchase their own AEDs.