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Monday , 19 October 2020
From left, Brooklyn, Allan, Evin, Sabrina, and Leni.

Firefighter suffering widowmaker heart attack drives self to hospital

A fundraiser began on September 18, in support of Allan Drinkwater and his family following a massive heart attack he suffered last week.

From Mannville, he was at work in Lloydminster on September 14, and only four blocks from the hospital at the time of the attack.

His symptoms were mild at the beginning. However, after they continued, he decided he better get himself to the hospital, got in his vehicle and rushed there.

A firefighter for the past eight years, he said that by the time he arrived, his training helped him to know what was going on– but he was still fearing for his life.

“I didn’t think I had time to call or ask for help,” said Drinkwater.

“I experienced extreme chest and back pain, I was sweating and couldn’t breathe. My arms were numb, and by the time I got to the hospital, my legs went numb. I was scared I would never see my wife or children again.”

While his attack continued in hospital he called his wife, Sabrina Perron, because he needed to hear her voice and thought it may be the last time he would hear it.

With the nurses arranging to have him rushed to Edmonton, Sabrina was told there’s no way she would make it to see him beforehand because they live 45 minutes away.

Devastated, she didn’t know his condition for several hours. Once she found out, she still couldn’t see him because they weren’t allowing visitors at the ICU in Edmonton due to COVID-19.

Drinkwater then underwent emergency stent surgery.

“They call the kind of heart attack I had a widowmaker because it is one of the worst you can have. The doctor said if I hadn’t driven myself to the hospital I wouldn’t have come out of it alive,” he said.

Survival rates for this type of heart attack are low and vary between 6-12 per cent. Drinkwater said he had a lot of motivation to pull though. Along with his wife, he has eight children, seven that live at home with them, and one grown up living in Edmonton.

Perron said it’s been a tough year for the family, which is an understatement.

In January, Allan was at work when their infant son began choking and the Fire Department came and rescued him. Allan was then laid off in March for three months due to the pandemic, Sabrina’s dad passed away in May from a heart attack, their neighbour’s tree fell on their garage, and their sewer backed up.

Recently, he was saving up and had a plan to fix their roof that had been leaking since early spring. Those plans had to be put on hold due to being off work for the foreseeable future.

Allan is on several medications and cannot drive, but will have to travel to Lloydminster three times per week to begin cardio rehabilitation next week. He’s been restricted from lifting over five pounds and is gutted because he can’t even pick up his children.

“The top of his heart is damaged and the future is kind of shady. We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Perron.

“None the less, the community has been absolutely mind-blowing and offered everything from dropping off meals to rides for the children.”

Their cousin Rhonda Kaziechko caught them off-guard by launching the fundraiser.

“We were emotional and star-struck, I even broke down crying. I don’t have words for the amount of people who have stepped up – appreciation doesn’t even cut it.

“The Fire Department and my close friends got together are roofing my house for me. Thank you also to a number of local businesses who have donated their time and equipment,” said Allan.

As of September 24, the fundraiser raised $8,370 of their $10,000 goal. To contribute, you can search ‘Support for the Drinkwater Family’ at gofundme.com.

“Mannville is amazing.”

About Angela Mouly

Angela comes to Lakeland Connect after leaving traditional newspaper where she spent the past four years reporting on community events. Her repertoire includes writing about history, politics, agriculture, sports, entertainment and art. She was the third place recipient of an AWNA General Excellence Award for “Best Front Page” during their 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. Angela has lived in rural Alberta all her life and in Vermilion for the past 15 years. She looks forward to continuing to serve and inform the Lakeland community by joining in people's many adventures and sharing their stories.