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Calgary doc saves man’s life – twice – after heart attack on Canmore area trail

In case of emergency, we’d all like to have a doctor close at hand.

On June 20, Darrell Parker and his family were hiking at Grassi Lakes Trail, just west of Canmore, when Parker had a heart attack.

Luckily for Parker, Dr. Corey Adams and his family were driving away from the trailhead when someone shouted “a man is unconscious and turning blue!”

Adams, who graduated with a master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary in 2004, had just returned to the Libin Cardiovascular Institute at UCalgary after working in Newfoundland for five years.

Adams with there with his own family; his wife, who is also a doctor, and their two children.

When Adams got to an unconscious Parker, another hiker had already started CPR.

“So that first bystander who had some training in CPR, who initially started doing CPR, that made a big difference,” said Adams.

Team effort to save Parker

Adams and the other hikers waited for firefighters and paramedics arrived. By that time they had been doing compressions for more than 20 minutes.

“Collectively, several of us began a coordinated resuscitation. As a cardiac surgeon I work daily with teams who are experts at reviving patients; however, it was truly special to work in the field with paramedics, firemen, and my wife to respond to this emergency,” said Adams.

“I really feel the collective team work of this group saved Darrell’s life. It’s an example of knowing the importance of CPR, and remaining calm.”

Once they were able to stabilize Parker in the ambulance, he was transported to the Canmore General Hospital.

Once there, they found a severe blockage in Parker’s heart. Canmore doctors transferred Parker to the Foothills Medical Center for further care.

Once at the FMC, the hospital learned about the heroic act that Dr. Adams performed and decided to thought that no one else would be better for the job than him.

‘I had no idea what poor condition my heart was in.’

L to R: Shirley Parker, Darrell Parker, Dr. Corey Adams. PHOTO UCALGARY

“We couldn’t believe our luck. The same doctor who happened to be on the trail that day at the same time Darrell had his heart attack was also going to be our surgeon,” said Shirley Parker, Darrell’s wife.

“It was amazing.”

Parker, who, along with his wife, travelled from Saskatchewan to visit their son Travis and wife Seanna. They had come out for a hiking trip.

“I work in the oilfield, I’m very active and have always considered myself very healthy. I had no idea what poor condition my heart was in,” said Parker

Nine days and five bypass surgeries later Parker said he realizes the importance of CPR.

“This experience has really shown me how important it is for people to learn CPR. I realize I had an expert start my heart beating again, but not everyone is going to have a heart surgeon nearby,” he said.

Parker was being discharged today and “he’ll be back to normal in three months with long term survival,” said Adams.

  • with info from UCalgary
  • with files from Cassie Jamieson