Seventeen-year-old Thomas Ottewell shares a laugh with Jennifer

Police honour Saanich teen for saving man’s life

17-year-old’s CPR skills credited with reviving victim of heart attack

Jennifer Makinson doles out warm hugs and a stream of thank-yous to the Ottewell family. She stops in front of 17-year-old Thomas, a Claremont secondary student, looks in his eyes and thanks him for saving her husband’s life.

The teen played a key role in bringing David Makinson, 82, back to life on Jan. 30, after he suffered a minor heart attack while out for a walk on Cordova Bay Road with his wife.

Thomas, who works as a lifeguard at Panorama Recreation Centre, was passing by on his scooter at that very moment, and immediately stopped and ran to David’s aid.

“Thomas advised Jennifer that he was first aid trained and took over CPR. He calmly directed Jennifer to begin giving her husband breaths, while he began chest compressions,” said Saanich police Chief Mike Chadwick, recounting the incident to the Saanich police board on Tuesday.

Saanich police Const. Janis Carmena arrived soon after and helped Ottewell with the exhaustive procedure of chest compressions. The Saanich Fire Department arrived and used an automated external defibrillator (AED), which successfully revived David. He was taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital in stable condition.

According to an ambulance attendant, the elderly man had, in fact, died, and was saved by a combination of Ottewell’s CPR and the AED.

Thomas was awarded the Chief Constable’s Certificate of Recognition Citizen Award “for his courage to take action and his ability to remain composed and focused under intense stress,” Chadwick said.

The young Saanich resident was speechless upon receiving the recognition, but suggested that everyone get basic first-aid training. “Everyone should take a CPR course. They’re easy to take, it’s quite simple and you could save a life,” he said.

Thomas’ parents, Lee and Carole, say they’re extremely proud of him for stepping up. “He was there at the right time. Great result,” Lee said. “A lot of trained lifeguards that know how to do CPR have never actually done it, and he has, and it worked, and it saved a life.”

David remains in hospital, and Jennifer says he’s doing “quite well,” given that he had a heart attack. Thomas is looking forward to meeting David once he’s feeling better.

kslavin@saanichnews.com