When Southlake Regional Health Centre nurse Michelle Lewis came upon a man at death’s door in August outside the Magna Centre, she took action.
Lewis, who works in the coronary intensive care unit, said she was passing by and saw that a man had fallen. She went to him and found he had no pulse and was not breathing, so she began CPR, including chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth. She said she did this for seven or eight minutes.
She helped save his life until an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. She would later help treat the man at the hospital, where she said he has gone on to recover.
“Every time I would see his face, I would have an instant, overwhelming rush of emotion. Happiness, gratitude,” Lewis said. “Just so happy that he was doing well.”
The town recognized Lewis’s efforts with a Good Samaritan certificate Oct. 23 outside the municipal office. Family and friends gathered to surprise her and celebrate her achievement.
Friend Stacey Crook reached out to the municipality about the incident and organized the gathering. She said she cried when she heard the story and felt her friend deserved commendation.
“She is a hero, and she should be recognized,” Crook said. “That’s a family that gets to have their father, their husband still because she acted."
Ward 2 Councillor Victor Woodhouse said the story is a strong example of Newmarket as a community.
“By having this recognized and shared, people realize what a good, caring community it is,” he said.
Mayor John Taylor said Lewis put her well-being on the line without thinking amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You are a frontline worker and you and your colleagues are putting your well-being second to others every day,” Taylor said. “This is recognizing that incredible, special moment, but it is recognizing who you are."
Lewis’s mother, Maryanne Lewis, told the gathering about how her daughter called her after the incident.
“It definitely was a proud moment for us,” she said. “You just jumped right in as you usually do. You’re always there to help out.”
The celebration was meant as a surprise, which Lewis said she did not see coming as she was taken to the town office. She said she appreciated the gesture, though added first responders do this all the time.
Regardless, she said it is helpful for you to have CPR knowledge and be aware of others.
“Never take things for granted,” Lewis said. “Just being mindful and aware of your surroundings. Being OK with taking that risk, jumping forward to help.”