Security supervisor Thia Chaar attends to a man who collapsed at the lottery booth in Semiahmoo Shopping Centre. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey security guard commended for CPR efforts

Man ‘seemed very close to death’ after collapsing at lottery booth

It was a rare moment for Thia Chaar last month, when she was alerted to a man who had collapsed after buying a lottery ticket in Semiahmoo Shopping Centre.

In four years as security supervisor at the mall, just twice has a life-or-death emergency occurred on her watch.

“It really doesn’t (happen often),” Chaar said.

“A lot of security is just prevention.”

Fortunately for those whose lives were at stake on those two occasions, Chaar knew what to do.

“We are so proud of the quick action taken by our Thia and our Semiahmoo Security team,” Jeri Cox, marketing director for the shopping centre, told Peace Arch News in an email highlighting Chaar’s response to the latest incident.

It occurred at the lottery booth, at around 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 18.

Lottery booth attendant Lisa Lawson said she alerted Chaar after checking on a man in his 50s who started to sway in front of her, then collapsed.

Chaar, 28, said she knew as soon as she saw the man that the situation was dire.

“His eyes were open. He wouldn’t respond to me, wouldn’t look at me,” the South Surrey resident told PAN.

“It seemed to me he was very close to death… either gone or about to go.”

Calling on her First Aid training, Chaar checked his pulse, then began CPR. After about 30 chest compressions, the man began to show signs of life.

“He took a breath and his body kind of jerked a bit,” she said.

Chaar said she stayed with the man, monitoring his condition and offering reassurance, until emergency crews arrived.

By then, the man was able to speak, advising that his chest had been hurting prior to his collapse.

In the previous incident, last January, Chaar said she performed CPR on a young woman who was found unresponsive in the washrooms near the mall’s centre court. She, too, didn’t have a pulse, but was brought back to life.

Chaar – with a background that includes work as a caregiver and religious studies at UBC – said a quick response in such situations can be pivotal to the outcome.

“Those first interventions can really make the difference,” she said. “In those first five minutes, somebody has to intervene.”

Chaar told PAN this week that she still doesn’t know how the man fared after he was taken to hospital, but is hopeful he’ll make a full recovery.

“I’ve definitely been thinking about him and hoping that he’s alright. It’s not something you forget about after it happens.”

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Thia Chaar, head of security at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre, remains hopeful the man she performed CPR on last month, is on his way to a full recovery. (Tracy Holmes photo)

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