First responders, Good Samaritans recognized during EMS Week celebration

As the City and County of Honolulu celebrates National Emergency Medical Services Week, a Honolulu man thanked the Good Samaritans and first responders who saved his life.

On Feb. 20, Phillip Tan, 51, was playing basketball at the Nuuanu YMCA when he started to feel dizzy and collapsed. Bystanders who rushed to his aid realized he had stopped breathing.

Members and staff performed CPR and shocked him with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

“The AED was attached and delivered one shock. The AED then advised the rescuers to continue the chest compressions and after about a minute, Mr. Tan began to breathe on his own,” said Dean Nakano, EMS Chief.

Upon arrival, the responding EMS crew took over care and rushed Tam to the hospital, where he underwent triple-bypass surgery. He has since made a full recovery.

“I’m so lucky that (off-duty police officer) Eric Lalau and David (Kim, who both assisted Tan), they knew what to do, otherwise I won’t be here today,” Tan said. “I’m truly grateful from the bottom of my heart that they were here to save me.”

“As paramedics, we have the experience, the skills, the knowledge to remain calm and confident with our skills which allows us to do what we need to do for our patients, but for the general public, the reality is much different,” Nakano said. “When presented with a similar event, you don’t start your day thinking I might save someone’s life… but it’s in everyone’s nature, when you see someone who needs help, you step up and you do what you need to do.”

During Monday’s ceremony, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell presented the Department of Emergency Services with a proclamation recognizing National EMS Week from May 15-21.

In 2015, Honolulu EMS responded to nearly 80,000 911 calls with 20 ambulance units.

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