For longtime University of Calgary staff member William Ringland, saving a life was all about acting on instinct and training. 

And now, the Security Services employee has been recognized for his heroic actions with a Canadian Security Lifesaver Award, which honours frontline security professionals in Canada who have made a difference in their communities.  

“We’re very proud of William and not the least bit surprised,” says Bob Maber, senior director of Campus Security and Emergency Management. “William exemplifies the professionalism of our security force.” 

Ringland, who was hired by UCalgary to help out with the 1988 Winter Olympics and then never left, was working at the university’s City Building Design Lab across from City Hall on Sept. 5, 2021, when he noticed an individual experiencing homelessness was unconscious. Ringland immediately acted, his training and experience pointing him to a possible drug overdose.  

He had his dispatcher call 911 while he rushed over to the individual, emergency kit in hand. Despite his initial attempts to revive the person, they remained unresponsive. After a quick verbal confirmation of a drug overdose from others in the vicinity, Ringland administered a NARCAN nasal spray (a prescription naloxone spray used as an antidote to opioid overdoses), with immediate results. 

The individual was awake and breathing when Emergency Medical Services arrived and provided oxygen. A second dosage of NARCAN was given when the individual slipped back into unconsciousness after several minutes. After this second dose, the person woke up completely and was able to breathe again normally.  

“We get a lot of training here (at UCalgary), it’s just phenomenal, so, when something comes up, we just move on instinct,” Ringland says. “It didn’t really hit me right away until the EMS pointed me out to the individual and said, ‘That guy saved your life.’” 

All UCalgary security personnel and frontline staff are required to take multiple levels of training including a standard first aid course, the Medical First Responder course and the Basic Life Support Training course. They have also had naloxone training and have been carrying UCalgary-issued naloxone kits inside their emergency response kits for the past four years.  

“We had a couple of our members become certified instructors so we could do our own internal training in partnership with Canadian Red Cross,” says Rick Gysen, director of Campus Security. “Anyone can enrol in these courses. It is our strong recommendation that everyone takes at least a basic first aid course or an emergency first aid course, because being able to know what to do in a crisis is invaluable.” 

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