A Drumheller man is lucky to be alive after suffering a heart attack, and thanks STARS for his survival.
Now he wants to spread the word of the good work that STARS does, and give back to the service.
On September 28, Josh Bhikoo a corrections officer at the Drumheller Institution, was experiencing chest pains. The 31 year old had already been to the hospital earlier that day and learned he had pneumonia. At emergency he could hardly stand.
“I passed out going into the ER. I hollered out ‘somebody catch me’ because I couldn’t breathe,” said Bhikoo. “When I woke up on the trauma bed, there were five doctors; two EMTs and two nurses.”
When the doctors told him he had a heart attack. He couldn’t believe it. The relatively young man was in otherwise good health. He had quit smoking and last year the avid cyclist had put about 8,000 kilometres on his road bike.
The doctors mulled over the decision as to whether to send him to a Calgary hospital by ground transport, or by air. The decision was to fly, and Bhikoo learned later that decision saved his life. If he had arrived 20 minutes later in Calgary, he would not have survived.
He was put to sleep for the flight, and didn’t wake up for 10 days. He was rushed right into surgery upon arrival at 3 a.m. They did an angioplasty and put a stent in his heart.
He was on life support for the nine days following the surgery. He had gained and lost about 40 pounds of fluid through the ordeal.
His recovery since then has been remarkable, but he says there is still a long way to go.
Within a day of waking up, he was back on his feet. Today, just a month since he was admitted, he is back driving and by appearances, he looks healthy.
He admits that he is still weak, and is winded at climbing a flight of stairs. He probably won’t be back at work for a year, and it won’t be until next season he is back on his bike.
“When I arrived home on the 20th (October), I was walking into my house and STARS was flying over taking somebody else,” said Bhikoo.
He says he received great support from the community while he was in the hospital.
“One thing that blows my mind is the community in Drumheller. I was almost finished building my fence when I went in, and my neighbours finished it. They did all of my yard work, people came in and cleaned the house,” said Bhikoo. “The Drumheller community is like family and that’s why I want to bring the Red Ring for Life to them.”
Bhikoo wants to give back to STARS for saving his life and he would like to encourage the community to join him.
He is getting behind the Red Ring of Life Campaign for STARS.
The Red Ring Campaign was launched in 2010. Supporters can purchase the stainless steel ring with the bright red band for $5 per month, or $60 for a year. The rings are available online or locally at Fountain Tire. Every dollar from the purchase of the rings goes to STARS.
He says it cost about $1 per second for STARS to fly, and the mission that saved him, he was told cost in the area of $14,000. Each ring represents a minute of flight. An average flight costs about $5,400.
He would like to raise awareness of the campaign. He went to Fountain Tire in Drumheller to buy a ring, they opened the box for him.
He wants to sell the box out.
“I want to pay it back, I want Drumheller to step up because it is a life saving force,” said Bhikoo, “and I know Drumheller will once they know it is out there.”
“Without it I wouldn’t be here.”