'They saved his life': Dartmouth man resuscitated by strangers

Frank Whiteley is now in stable condition at the Dartmouth General Hospital.  (Paige Price - image credit)
Frank Whiteley is now in stable condition at the Dartmouth General Hospital. (Paige Price - image credit)

It was just a regular Tuesday for 59-year-old Frank Whiteley until he had a major heart attack in Halifax.

But some Good Samaritans on Quinpool Road helped save his life.

After a few days on life support, he's now in stable condition at the Dartmouth General Hospital.

His granddaughter, Paige Price, said it wouldn't be the case if bystanders Heather McGrath and Melissa Savoie hadn't jumped in to help.

McGrath said she was walking down Quinpool Road when she noticed Whiteley sitting on a bench. At first, she thought he was just taking a nap.

"He had his eyes closed and his head down, so I kept going," she said. "But I just had this feeling that something wasn't right."

Paige Price
Paige Price

She asked him if he was OK. But Whiteley was unconscious and having some seizure activity, so McGrath immediately called 911.

"It's very cliché, but right place, right time for sure," said McGrath.

Savoie was driving by and noticed the scene. She parked her car and went over to see what was happening.

Savoie is certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. She noticed that Whiteley wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse, so she started chest compressions.

'You have to step in'

"When something is wrong, you have to step in," said Savoie. "I saw a wedding band, so I knew somebody home was waiting for him."

Both McGrath and Savoie said how helpful the 911 operator was. They said her guidance is what helped them through the entire event, until a doctor who happened to be passing by stopped to take over compressions.

Savoie and the doctor were able to restore a pulse. Whiteley was then transported to hospital.

Paige Price
Paige Price

Meanwhile, Whiteley's family had no idea what was going on. It wasn't until later that day that they learned what had happened.

Price felt compelled to find the strangers who she said saved her grandfather's life. She went to social media and later found she was looking for McGrath and Savoie.

"Melissa, she got his heart beating again," said Price. "I can't thank her enough, you know? I want her to know that."

Price said her first conversation with Savoie was emotional.

"I heard the sigh of relief in her once I told her his status of health and how things were going," said Price. "There were lots of tears."

Savoie said she couldn't stop worrying about the man she had helped that morning. When she was contacted by Price, she said it was a "big weight off [her] shoulders."

Importance of CPR

"It was probably the happiest call I got in so long," said Savoie.

In 2016, Savoie performed CPR on her father, who also had a major heart attack. He didn't survive.

"By the time I got there, it was a bit too late," said Savoie. "We tried and he was gone already."

"But this time I was happy that we got there quick enough."

Now, those involved are emphasizing the importance of CPR training.

"I do believe that everybody should be certified for CPR," said Price. "I know the course may be costly to some, but you may save somebody's life."

Price said that while Whiteley is stable, he's emotional about what happened.

"Once all of this is over, we're actually all going to connect and meet up, and Frank's going to meet the people that saved his life," she said.