A group of bystanders are being called heroes after saving a martial artist who went into sudden cardiac arrest.

Ottawa Paramedics say the 51-year-old man was not breathing and without pulse when they received the call around 3p.m. on Saturday.

The man was competing for his second degree black belt at the Black Belt Excellence Martial Arts studio in Kanata when bystanders say he collapsed on the floor.

Robert Pizzuto was sparring with the victim at the time of the incident. He says the man started to go down – that is when he knew something was wrong.

“That’s when I noticed his earlobe turning blue and I realized he’s not breathing anymore. So I turned him on his back and started the compressions,” Pizzuto said.

The rescue was a team effort.

While Pizzuto administered CPR, another bystander phoned 9-1-1.

Ambulance Communications Officers for Ottawa Paramedics, Evan Gagnon, was on the other end of that call. He says he quickly searched through database to find the nearest public access defibrillator.

“With the help of my colleagues we were able to identify there was a defib across the street and I hadn’t even finished the sentence and we already said ‘OK we have someone going,’” Gagnon said.

The defibrillator was brought back to the studio from a community centre nearby and delivered life-saving energy to the man’s heart, according to paramedics.

“If anything is going to happen, it has to happen in minutes,” said Supt. Steven Leu. “For every minute that goes on without CPR or with early defibrillation you lose seven to 10 per cent of your chance.”

The man had a pulse and had regained consciousness when paramedics arrived. He is currently in hospital in stable condition.

This is at least the third time a defibrillator was used in the Ottawa-Gatineau area in the last 10 days.

The City of Ottawa maintains a database of Public Access Defibrillators; when a call is received for a cardiac arrest the closest available defibrillator is identified by a Paramedic Communications Officer. 

The public can register their defibrillator at 613-580-2424 ext 22452