Brian Counihan of North Vancouver is a real-life hero.
On April 12, Counihan saved a fellow SeaBus passenger’s life, by jumping into action and performing CPR as the man went into cardiac arrest half way across Burrard Inlet.
On Friday, the soft-spoken 41-year-old engineer and dad of two young children was honoured by North Vancouver RCMP for being willing to step in and make the ultimate difference.
“It was his immediate heroic, selfless actions that saved the man’s life,” said Corp. Richard DeJong, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP.
Counihan, who works as an engineer for the District of North Vancouver, was returning home to North Vancouver from a work-related function that evening on the SeaBus at 8:48 p.m. when he noticed a man sitting directly opposite him was in distress, and appeared to be having a seizure.
“It was pretty clear he wasn’t OK,” said Counihan. “The first thing I did was call out ‘Is there a doctor?’” he said. “I can be pretty loud if I want to be.”
Then Counihan, who has industrial first aid training, began to check the man for breathing and a pulse. “I did get a pulse initially but then I didn’t get a pulse,” he said.
Counihan jumped into action and began to perform chest compressions.
“I wasn’t really aware of the time and how long everything took or even what happened around me,” he said.
Counihan added that, although he’s taken the CPR training before, he’s never had to use it – until last Thursday.
He said he’s not even sure how long he performed CPR for. Paramedics rushed aboard and took over when the SeaBus docked at Lonsdale Quay.
“They’re the real heroes in my eyes. They’re the ones that really brought this gentleman back to life. I was just happy I could contribute and bring first aid,” he said.
Counihan said he’d hoped to find out what happened to the stranger he’d helped, but wasn’t sure how to do that, until he read the North Shore News and found the North Vancouver RCMP were looking to thank him.
He’s since been happy to find out that the 30 year-old North Vancouver man he helped has been released from hospital and made a full recovery.
That person has asked to remain anonymous.
Counihan is modest about his actions.
“I would encourage everyone to do first aid,” he said. “It’s made me realize how important it is…I think the important thing is that you do something when you’re in those situations.”
Counihan’s wife Ramona is a nurse at Lions Gate Hospital. She said it’s great that her husband stepped up to help. “We can all tell when someone’s not feeling well or not right and we should step up when we can,” she said. “. . . At the end of the day you can’t really do that much wrong (performing CPR) if somebody’s going into cardiac arrest. You’re buying time.”
She added the couple have told their children Skyla, 7 and Finn, 3, “that dad helped somebody and he did something very good for a person.”
The kids are both very proud of their dad, she added.
Chris Bryan, spokesman for SeaBus, said every SeaBus in active service has a defibrillator on board and a minimum one crew member with marine first aid. It was not immediately clear why the defibrillator was not produced during the incident.
“Standard practice is every time we have an incident like this we will look at it and review our procedures and make sure our response is proper and expected,” said Bryan.
He added TransLink applauds Counihan for stepping up and saving his fellow SeaBus passenger’s life. “That’s the kind of city we live in.”
“It’s very refreshing…to celebrate a good news story,” said DeJong.
“We like heroes. We like good news stories.”