Man saves heart attack victim after getting CPR instructions over phone

Man saves heart attack victim after getting CPR instructions over phone
Mr Edwin Huang, 32, who was having lunch at the restaurant, performed CPR on Mr Tan Han Theng with guidance from SCDF personnel over the phone.
PHOTO: The New Paper

On a Sunday afternoon during Chinese New Year in 2014, business analyst Edwin Huang was tucking into a bowl of beef noodles at an eatery in Seah Street.

Suddenly, he heard a piercing scream coming from the kitchen.

He rushed over to find the eatery's owner on the ground, motionless.

Even though he didn't know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), he stepped forward anyway and helped save the man's life.

Yesterday, the 32-year-old was presented with the Survivor Awards Singapore.

Mr Huang was at Authentic Hock Lam St Popular Beef Kway Teow when its owner, Mr Tan Han Theng, 63, collapsed.

Mr Huang saw that the elderly man had turned purple and had stopped breathing.

He told The New Paper that there was utter chaos in the kitchen after Mr Tan collapsed.

He said: "Two employees and I first dragged Mr Tan out of the kitchen and into the corridor.

"Somebody then called the ambulance."

As he was not CPR-certified, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel guided him over the phone.

Mr Huang said: "It was chaotic. I vaguely remember someone crying. And many pairs of eyes on me.

"My mind was completely blank. I just wanted to administer CPR correctly and save his life."

The entire episode was captured on the eatery's closed-circuit television cameras.

Thankfully, Mr Tan soon began to breathe.

Five employees, including Mr Tan's wife, were at the scene.

TNP understands that another customer was involved in the rescue but declined to comment on the incident.

The SCDF personnel on the phone gave clear instructions and also real-time updates on the whereabouts of the ambulance, said Mr Huang.


Mr Huang added: "It was very reassuring to know that help was on the way."

SCDF paramedics arrived after about six minutes of chest compressions.

Paramedic Jonathan Wang, who was involved in the incident, said a heart attack victim's chances of survival are greatly increased when there is immediate intervention to keep the blood circulating to the brain until SCDF arrives.

He added that simple chest compressions are all it takes.

SCDF Operations Centre supervisor Elvan B. Tamam, who guided Mr Huang over the phone, said: "Mr Huang was calm over the phone and performed the guided CPR admirably. I'm glad Mr Tan pulled through.

"I feel that everyone should know at least the basics of CPR and feel confident doing it as the SCDF dispatcher guides you every step of the way."

After being taken to Singapore General Hospital, three of Mr Tan's major heart arteries were found to be severely blocked, said Mr Tan's eldest daughter, Ms Dorothy Tan, 45.

Mr Tan was hospitalised for a month.

He underwent a heart bypass and pacemaker surgery.

Although he had to be resuscitated a further three times in hospital, he pulled through.

Today, he doesn't cook but helps oversee daily operations at the eatery's outlet at North Canal Road.

The Seah Street outlet closed in April 2014 after its lease expired.

Recalling the incident, Mr Tan said he was playing a game of Candy Crush on his mobile phone when he had to go to the kitchen to cook.

He said: "I stood up and took two steps towards the kitchen."

He then asked his wife: "Why has the sky turned so dark?"

That was the last thing he remembers before waking up in hospital.

Mr Tan and Mr Huang met last Thursday evening for the first time since the incident. The two men hugged and there were tears in Mr Tan's eyes.

Four of Mr Tan's family members were also present to thank Mr Huang.

Mr Tan said: "I have so much to thank him for and I'm glad I can meet him to convey my thanks."

Mr Huang was glad to see Mr Tan healthy and energetic. He was also touched that Mr Tan's family remembered him and were appreciative of his efforts.

He said: "Mr Tan may be a man of few words but I could really feel his sincerity."

During the reunion, Mr Tan's family gave Mr Huang shopping vouchers as a token of appreciation.

Mr Huang used to be a regular customer at the eatery, which was near his previous workplace.

He said: "My wife and I returned to the outlet but was sad to see it had closed."

They did not know that the eatery had two other branches.

Mr Tan's family had kept Mr Huang updated on Mr Tan's operations in 2014.

But Mr Huang was still very worried for a few days after the incident.


His wife, Ms Adeline Choo, 32, recalls Mr Huang meeting her immediately after the incident.

The human resource consultant said: "Edwin was very emotional. He couldn't talk about what had happened for a while."

Mr Tan's family had tried to meet Mr Huang in 2014 to thank him, but he declined.

Mr Huang said what he did was the least anyone could do for someone in need.

"I couldn't walk away. I knew that if it were my family members who were in need, I would wish for someone to help them, too."

On how Mr Tan intends to thank Mr Huang for saving his life, Mr Tan joked: "Edwin gets a lifetime of free beef noodles."

This article was first published on January 18, 2016.
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