Students honoured for moment of heroism

Adela Talbot // Western News

Stacia Pepper, in her second year at King’s University College, received a Citizen Citation Award from the London Police Services Board last month for her heroic actions during Homecoming weekend which helped save a woman’s life. Pepper and a friend, Shawn Hope, a Fanshawe student, who also received the award, administered CPR to a woman in anaphylactic shock while they waited for emergency responders to arrive.

Amidst the frenzy that is Homecoming weekend, Stacia Pepper and Shawn Hope quickly responded to an emergency and possibly helped save a young woman’s life. They weren’t hoping for any accolades, but their vigilance and actions earned them Citizen Citation Awards from the London Police Services Board last month.

It was a sunny afternoon on Sept. 26, and Homecoming celebrations were well underway. Pepper, in her second year at King’s University College, was outside her Epworth Avenue home with Hope, who is in his second year at Fanshawe College. They heard screams across the street and rushed immediately to a young woman they thought to be in distress. At the time, they assumed she might have been sick from drinking too much.

“I just remember hearing screaming. Her friends came running around the side of the house, asking if anyone knew CPR. She was going into anaphylactic shock from eating a protein bar with nuts in it. She was severely allergic. Shawn and I immediately ran over, and noticed she was sprawled on the ground. We booked it over there and started CPR,” Pepper noted.

“Her face was blue and puffy and her eyes were rolled back. She had no pulse and no medical alert bracelet. She had no EpiPen. We started compressions and breathing, and at first, she didn’t respond,” she continued.

The young woman’s airway was completely obstructed, Pepper added. Her and Hope continued administering CPR until the young woman started to respond, and EMS and police arrived on scene. She was given an EpiPen, taken to the hospital and made a full recovery.

“You learn CPR once, and you never think you have to use it,” said Pepper, who took a course in high school.

“I’m a huge advocate for CPR training. I recommend it for everybody. Just seeing her like that – if we weren’t able to resuscitate her, it could have been a totally different outcome. We are still in shock from it, but we are lucky it turned out the way it did. We are thankful for that.”

Hope, whose contractor employer in Chatham, Ont. required him to undergo CPR and First Aid training, had just completed his certification a few months prior to the incident. He never anticipated having to use it so quickly, he added.

Still, at the end of the day, it’s about more than just having CPR training, Pepper continued. The mass of students at the scene that day was frantic. People were panicked, unsure of what to do. Maybe they had too much to drink. Maybe they didn’t know how to help. Maybe it’s a combination of both factors, she explained.

“Encourage people to get the training, and don’t be afraid to help someone when they’re in need. People were screaming and yelling. People need to be careful, and if they see someone in distress, offer to help them,” Pepper said.

A phone call before Christmas informed her and Hope they would be getting Citizen Citation Awards. Neither of them knew how to respond.

“I didn’t really know how to feel about it (the incident). But after sitting down and talking to my parents and friends about what actually happened, then I felt like I did a good deed. When I first stood up after it, I didn’t recognize what I did. Adrenaline kicked in, and I don’t remember much about it,” Hope noted.

“To be recognized for what we did, and the positive outcome, was really memorable and unbelievable.”

Pepper was shocked when she got the call, she added.

“We weren’t expecting anything, obviously. We didn’t do it for an award or publicity. We just wanted to help.”