Sinisa Marovic remembers the day he became a Penticton hero like it was yesterday.
It was 11:51 a.m. on May 5, 2021, when he dialled 911 after hearing cries for help from the next-door apartment.
His neighbour, Sinisa Zakosek, collapsed and was found unresponsive by his wife.
On Friday afternoon, Feb. 24, Zakosek and Marovic sat side-by-side inside the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) station in Penticton, where the latter was presented with the Vital Link Award.
Marovic — knowing that every minute counts during an emergency — had dashed into his neighbour’s living room while on the line with a medical call taker and followed step-by-step instructions to perform effective CPR until BC Emergency Health Services arrived.
“He was in cardiac arrest,” Marovic emotionally recalled at the ceremony. “To me, I thought he was dead, there was nothing I could do. Despite that, I thought there was nothing to lose and I performed what I know. It felt like hours.”
Three days later, when Zakosek left the Penticton Regional Hospital following his recovery, doctors credited Marovic with saving his neighbour’s life through the use of bystander CPR.
“He’s my hero,” Zakosek said, pointing at his neighbour and now, life-long friend.
“I feel happy I’m alive.”
Christina Plant from the BCEHS, who was on the scene in May 2021, four minutes after Marovic dialled 911, said Friday the aforementioned award is rarely presented to anyone.
“I’ve been doing this for 28 years and this is my first Vital Award [presentation],” she said. “This is really amazing.”
Marovic and Zakosek share the same first name and place of origin as well, with both eventually settling in Penticton after years of living in Croatia.
Joined by his proud wife at Friday’s award ceremony, Marovic says that everyone should have the instinct to make a save when something doesn’t feel right.
Only one word comes to mind when he recalls how he felt when he heard the news Zakosek had survived.
“Relief,” he said.
“My father passed away in my arms and there was nothing I could do to save him. I am happy beyond anything that was able to help here…I think everyone should do the same thing (when in this spot).”
Plant’s message to the public after Friday’s ceremony was that everyone should learn CPR.
A new app for smartphones called PulsePoint, she says, alerts bystanders who can help victims before professional assistance arrives on the scene.
“We are honoured and indeed so happy to present this award today,” Plant said. “Sinisa’s action made all the difference in this event and we would like to commend him for his life-saving efforts.”