Princeton-area man survives heart attack – with help from Facebook

Che Lapointe began feeling unwell after finishing his chores Friday morning.

Che Lapointe began feeling unwell after finishing his chores Friday morning.

A Princeton-area man is alive today, in part, because of Facebook.

Che Lapointe suffered a serious heart attack Friday, at an isolated property on Pike Mountain Forestry Service Road.

Cell service in the area is intermittent at best. His wife, Heather Balaam, was not able to get through to emergency services.

The couple had finished a morning’s worth of chores including plowing the driveway, filling a water container, and drilling a hole in the ice.

“I noticed he was very short of breath. By the time he made it back to the house he was feeling unwell,” said Balaam. “There was a pressure across his shoulders and chest accompanied by sharp pain. He called me upstairs where he was on the couch in distress. He said he thought he was having a heart attack.”

Balaam went online and Googled what she should do to treat Lapointe’s symptoms. “[I also went] to facebook and the Princeton page to find out where the hospital was located.”

She tried several times to call 911, but could not get a signal.

“All at once I realized that I should just go back to Facebook and someone would help me. I desperately typed in a ‘help’ message and saw some responses, and knew that someone was calling 911 for me.”

Balaam searched the home looking for Aspirin, but found none.

“I was able to contact one of logging trucks by walkie talkie – he was close and had Aspirin. I put Che in the car and drove out to the Forestry Service Road where two logging trucks were waiting for us. They crushed up four aspirin and gave him water, and assured me that 911 had been contacted.”

The truckers escorted the couple down the road to Highway 5A, allowed Balaam to speak with a 911 operator, and waited with them for the ambulance.

“Che was getting worse, but he held on,” she said. “The ambulance attendants were wonderful – Amy and Bob. They rushed him to Merritt. I followed. He was taken by special ambulance to Kelowna, code red all the way. They took him immediately to the cardiac unit where a team of doctors operated.”

The right side of Lapointe’s heart was completely blocked. however he recovered quickly and was able to return home Monday.

“So many people contributed to Che’s survival. So many strangers responded to my call for help. So many have sent encouragement.”

While she acknowledged their story is “uplifting.” She also said it is “a cautionary tale.”

Balaam said doctors attributed her husband’s heart attack to smoking, and ignoring warning signs like shortness of breath, aches, and a lack of stamina.

“And we had no aspirin – small inexpensive, easily obtained, but we had none.”

She recalled that twice in the past Lapointe played a role in saving another’s life.

“A fisherman with a severe injury, and a young boy laying beside the road,” she said. “What goes around comes around.”