Kaiser Permanente San Francisco nurse Jason Bensan, pictured at left with Tina Yap, pipe sergeant for the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii Marching Band, saved a life while vacationing in Hawaii. But the story didn’t end when he returned to the mainland.
Everything happened in an instant.
One moment Jason Bensan, RN, a nurse in the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Ambulatory Surgery Unit, and his wife, Cossella, were enjoying a relaxing Hawaiian vacation.
The next, Bensan was using his medical training, making him a sudden hero.
The couple was walking by the annual Memorial Day Parade at Waikiki Beach on Oahu when Alf Schneider, 79-year-old drummer for the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii Marching Band, collapsed. Bensan rushed forward and began CPR. “Alf was in cardiac arrest and needed some hands on him,” he said.
“When Jason reached Alf it was obvious he didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing,” recounted Tina Yap, pipe sergeant for the band. “Jason was calm and immediately took control of the situation, administering CPR for nearly 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived.”
Initially, Schneider’s fellow band members feared he wouldn’t survive. But he underwent bypass surgery and is subsequently recovering from the ordeal.
That wasn’t the end of the story, however.
A Lei for a Hero
Jodi Matsuura Eves, MD, a musician in the band and a pathologist at Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, was able to locate Bensan via Facebook.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see that he is a member of the Kaiser family,” said Dr. Matsuura Eves.
To show their appreciation, grateful members of the pipe band reached out to Bensan’s colleagues in San Francisco to describe what happened and ask to plan a surprise thank you event.
“I wanted to let you at Kaiser San Francisco know what Jason did while he was here on vacation,” Dr. Matsuura Eaves wrote in an email. “He represented — and represented well. We should all be proud.”
On July 19, Bensan was asked to go to a conference room at the medical center for what he thought was going to be a meeting. Instead, he was greeted with shouts of “surprise!” from Yap, a group of about 25 co-workers, several members of the San Francisco Medical Center leadership team, and his wife.
“Oh, my goodness,” Bensan responded, as Yap put a lei around his neck.
She next presented Bensan with tokens of the band’s appreciation, including honorary membership in the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii and a koa wood plaque donated by Eaves.
“We most humbly thank you from the bottom of our hearts for saving Alf’s life,” said Yap. “Some people would have just walked by, but you didn’t.”
The party was capped with the appearance of a special guest —Schneider, via FaceTime.
“This surprise is nice, but honestly, hearing that Alf was doing good a few days after the incident was the highlight of our trip,” said Bensan.
He credited the training he received in CPR with giving him the necessary confidence.
“My teacher always reminded the class, ‘That’s somebody’s father, brother, or uncle, so do whatever it takes to save that person.’”
And that’s exactly what Bensan did.