By Meg Olson
An upcoming visit to Point Roberts by congresswoman Suzan DelBene will include a commendation ceremony at the Benson Road fire station honoring the individuals and agencies that worked together to save a man’s life after he had a heart attack at the port of entry.
On the morning of June 7, Jim Graham and his friend Andy MacLean came to the Point for a bike ride and Graham collapsed at the port, suffering from cardiac arrest immediately after the two had cleared inspection. MacLean said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer Detliff Goellner was out of the building in “moments,” and began performing CPR, bringing Graham “back from the brink of death twice.”
Point Roberts Fire Department personnel was on the scene within five minutes, led by paramedic Ben Boyko. “Resuscitation efforts including defibrillation and medications continued for approximately an hour until the patient was stable,” said fire chief Christopher Carleton.
The Airlift Northwest helicopter was dispatched and landed adjacent to the port of entry, and the border was closed for approximately half an hour while responders further stabilized Graham and prepared him for transport to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham.
MacLean said from the time his friend collapsed until the helicopter took off less than an hour had passed. “I was astonished at how well everyone handled the situation,” he said. “I’m very impressed with everything they did and of course so grateful for how it worked out.”
MacLean said Graham has returned home and is recovering.
“The most important factor was the interagency relationships,” Carleton said. “It can’t be said enough that without everyone working together the result might not have been the same.” Carleton added he hoped the incident would lead to more interagency training so county and federal law enforcement were well equipped to assist emergency responders, and vice-versa.