Shaziye Azimkar, the Turkish Cypriot woman who saved a man’s life after he suffered a cardiac arrest on Tuesday, spoke about her experience on Wednesday.
Speaking to Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Duzen, Azimkar explained that Ambulance Service Director Riana Constantinou had telephoned her on Wednesday saying “if it weren’t for you, this person would not be alive right now.”
“A person is a person, a life is a life. We are all one, so I am very happy to help such a family,” she said, making reference to the fact that the man whose life she saved is a father.
Speaking about the day itself, Azimkar said “I took my son to the doctor in the Engomi area. After takin my son to the doctor, we went to the Engomi mall to buy a snack and a coffee. As we were heading outside after doing our shopping, I saw a group of five or six people and a man lying on the ground.”
“Then, I said to my mother and my son, ‘please stay away, I’m going [over there].’ When I went to the scene of the incident, I introduced myself and said I had a first aid certificate and that I could help. As soon as I said that, they said ‘please come’. I then immediately started performing CPR,” she said.
She explained that “there is a law in the south of Cyprus which requires shopping malls to have [a defibrillator],” and that for this reason, she was able to obtain one close to the scene.
“After attaching the defibrillator to the person suffering a cardiac arrest, I shocked him three times. When the shock was administered, the man shook, but he had no pulse, but I continued to work. At the same time, I had to keep cool because his family was there, too. Seeing his daughter particularly affected me,” she said.
She added, “while I was continuing, they called an ambulance, and I began to tell the operators everything I had been trained for. The ambulance arrived at the scene of the incident within around seven or eight minutes with four people inside.”
The paramedics administered adrenaline through an intravenous line, and Azimkar said she remained with the man until he was taken away in the ambulance, before leaving herself.
Afterwards, she explained, she called the person who had given her the relevant training to explain the steps she had taken.
“I don’t know who the man is, I don’t know if he will live, I just wanted to give you information,” she told her trainer. Following this interaction, Constantinou reached out to her to thank her.
Regarding the health of the man who suffered the cardiac arrest, she said “I reached out to the authorities and was informed on the same day. When I spoke to him [on Tuesday afternoon], they said the situation was critical, but when I spoke the following day, they said his condition was improving and he would undergo an angiography,” a type of x-ray used to check blood vessels.
Asked how she learned how to perform CPR and operate a defibrillator, she said “I work in a bicommunal project in the south of Cyprus and the government requires first aid training in such institutions here.”
The incident and its positive outcome is pertinent and comes days after “World heart restart day”, which took place on Monday.
Speaking at an event on that day, Health Minister Popi Kanari spoke of the launch of a programme to place public access defibrillators in boxes in public spaces, with one already having been placed in Eleftherias Square in central Nicosia.
In addition, she spoke of initiatives for “frequent training sessions” for schoolteachers on what to do should someone suffer a cardiac arrest, and the “Tour for Life” programme, in which non-profit organisation Spiritus Invictus travels around the country offering people first aid and CPR training free of charge and offers free defibrillators to communities in need.