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  • Vermilion Voice

Widow Maker Survivor

The Drinkwater Family. Photo credit: Sabrina Gillis

On September 14, Mannville Firefighter Allan Drinkwater suffered a “widow maker” heart attack. According to a widow maker is when you get a big blockage at the beginning of the left main artery or the left anterior descending artery (LAD). They’re a major pipeline for blood. If blood gets 100% blocked at that critical location, it may be fatal without emergency care.

At the time of the attack Drinkwater was working in Lloydminster and recognized that the symptoms he was experiencing was a heart attack, knowing that it was serious Drinkwater realized he needed to get to the hospital right away, so he drove himself which was 4 blocks away.

“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,” explained Drinkwater.

Even though Drinkwater was still having a heart attack he wanted to call his wife Sabrina Perron as he knew this could be the last time he heard her voice. Once Drinkwater arrived at the hospital in Edmonton he underwent emergency surgery where a stent was placed.

“They call the kind of heart attack I had a widow maker 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,” stated Drinkwater.

This year has been particularly hard for the Drinkwater family as Drinkwater was laid off in March due to COVID-19, his wife Sabrina’s Dad passed away in May from a heart attack, their sewer backed up and a their neighbours tree fell on his shed.

Drinkwater is well known for volunteer work and overall willingness to help where he can.

“He gives and gives and gives and never takes a minute for himself,” said Firefighter Dolly Dalton.

Dalton, other fellow firefighters from Innisfree and Mannville, and community members wanted to do something special for Drinkwater as he goes through recovery, so Dalton organized a workbee.

The workbee consisted of yard maintenance, roof repair, repainting the exterior of the house, and some fence repair. Community members prepared food for the Drinkwater family of nine, and some businesses donated supplies for the repairs.

Roof repairs were supplied by Gilbert Roofing, ABC Drywall assisted in painting, Rona donated lumber for fencing repairs, and a swing set was purchased and built for the children. Numerous others pitched in their time and money including Top Gun Pipe Inspections and Ken Frimark.

“Everybody has kind of gone above and beyond,” commented Dalton.

A GoFundMe by the title “Support for the Drinkwater Family” was organized by his cousins Kyle and Rhonda Kaziechko on September 18, which as of September 25, has reached $8,600 out of their $10,000 goal.

Drinkwater is amazed by the community support and would like to say thank you to everyone who has been involved.

“The community has been absolutely mind-blowing and offered everything from dropping off meals to rides for the children. 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,” said Drinkwater.


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