LACONIA — This summer's pleasures will be all the sweeter for city resident Charles "Chuck" Farquharson, who says his life could very well have ended in December of last year had it not been for the actions of a long chain of people. He is grateful to the emergency responders from Laconia Fire Department, as well as the medical staff at both Lakes Region General Hospital and Concord Hospital. However, he believes he owes his life, first and foremost, to the two employees at the CVS on Union Avenue who first rushed to his aid.
Farquharson, 52, who has lived on Winter Street since 2006, doesn't even remember walking to the pharmacy on Dec. 15 of last year. However, shift supervisor Renee McVey and pharmacist Kristin Silveria remember that day well. It was the day after a 1-foot snowstorm and the day of their staff holiday party, so Renee was wearing reindeer antlers for the occasion. The store was quiet at about 11:30 a.m., she remembers, when Farquharson walked through the door and continued in the direction of the pharmacy. Surveillance video, viewed afterward, showed that he only made it about 15 feet, at which point he grabbed his chest and fell forward, smashing his face on the floor. He had suffered a heart attack.
The cashier watched him fall and called out to McVey, who was in the back office at the time. There was something in the cashier's voice that made her look to the video monitor, where she saw a man laying prone in the entrance. She immediately called 9-1-1 and ran to his side. Also rushing to Farquharson's side was Silveria, who has known how to perform CPR since she was 11 but had never had the opportunity to use the skill outside of training sessions. McVey had also never found herself in such a situation, though looking back, she said she never hesitated in her reaction. "It doesn't feel like something I wouldn't normally do. It's just natural, instinct. Something happened, you need to take care of it."
While one woman spoke with the emergency dispatcher, the other attended to Farquharson. After ascertaining that he was unconscious, they flipped him over and recognized him as one of their regular customers. "He comes in all the time, he's a happy-go-lucky guy and it's nice to see him with that big smile on his face," said McVey. On that day, though, his face was bloodied from his fall and his breathing coarse. As Silveria placed her fingers on his neck, she felt his pulse fade away. Though they feared the worst, they began chest compressions and continued until paramedics arrived.
Farquharson was in the store for about 15 minutes in total that day. Fire Department personnel continued working on him in the ambulance for about five minutes, McVey and Silveria said, before taking him to LRGH. He spent three weeks in a medically-induced coma before waking up at Concord Hospital. Today, Farquharson continues to struggle with health challenges but is grateful to be alive. Had he stayed home that day and had his heart attack in his apartment, or had he collapsed on the sidewalk outside of the store, or if the store employees hadn't done everything they could to save his life, he might not be alive today.
"Life is short, people take a lot for granted," he said.
Farquharson is most appreciative of the opportunity to spend time with his family, which includes an adult son, many nieces and nephews and a three-year-old grand niece. "I spoil her rotten." McVey and Silveria, said Farquharson, "They gave me that extra time."
Silveria responded, "You're alive, that's enough for me."
CAPTION for CVS Farquharson in AA:
Charles Farquharson (at center) had a heart attack in the Laconia CVS in December. He believes the immediate reaction by pharmacist Kristin Silveria (left) and shift supervisor Renee McVey (right) helped to save his life. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)