Now St. John Ambulance is honouring the family with a Life-Saving Award.
In a written response to TC Media, Roberta Hewitt, director of Marketing and Community Relations with St. John Ambulance, NL Council said:
"The Keats' story is particularly memorable as it illustrates an entire family working together to save a life. The fact is you never know when an emergency situation might arise and you’ll need to respond. When the Keats family needed to respond, they were trained and ready to do so."
The man they saved lives next door to the Keats family, but he was visiting them at the time of the incident. Tony Keats is the lead support supervisor for the staff who cares for him.
According to Keats, in October in the man started to choke while eating a snack.
Keats attempted to remove the obstruction from the man’s mouth and performed the Heimlich maneuver, but the man lost consciousness.
Donna Keats called an ambulance only to learn the Gambo vehicle was out on a call and they’d have to wait for an ambulance from New-Wes-Valley, which is at least a 45-minute drive away.
The man was unresponsive and had no pulse. With no time to lose, the family began CPR.
The family worked together: Donna stayed on the line with the ambulance operator to relay information, Tony did chest compressions, son Cole performed mouth-to-mouth, and daughter Toni counted and provided direction.
By the time the ambulance arrived, the man was breathing again, but was confused and had difficulty moving. The ambulance attendants gave him oxygen and took him to James Paton Memorial Hospital at Gander, where he was kept overnight.
Tony Keats said that by the next morning, the man had recovered and was happy to go back home.
Keats says, "The feeling of a successful ending is unreal, because 20 years ago I worked on my father and didn’t have the same result. He passed away and I couldn’t bring him back."
Keats—who is the mayor of Dover and vice-president of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador—recommends that everyone get life-saving training.
"You don’t know when you’ll be in the situation where you need to step up to the plate and do something."
The Keats family will be presented with their award in St. John’s by the lieutenant governor at the St. John Ambulance Annual Life-Saving Ceremony and Investiture on May 25.
Later in the year, the Keats family story will also be used as part of a St. John Ambulance social media campaign which will "highlight extraordinary heroes, everyday Canadians who have saved a life or attempted to save a life using first aid."
Last week the family travelled to St. John's for a photo shoot, in preparation for the promotion.
“When the family came to our office to participate in a photo shoot to promote life-saving intervention using first aid and CPR,” wrote Hewitt, “we were struck by how compassionate and humble they are. Tony, Donna, Tonie and Cole are wonderful examples of everyday heroes, stepping up to respond to a person in distress, and ultimately saving a life.”
St. John Ambulance would like to hear from anyone who’s used first aid to save a life.
For more information about SJA’s Life-Saving Awards and to download the application form, follow this link.