"had come out of the water shivering and wobbly, and was coughing. Her kayaker said she'd started coughing later in the race. At this point I had no worry -- she has had hypothermia in previous races. She sat down for a while and was shivering uncontrollably, so we moved her to the sun. She complained of not feeling well, didn’t look good, and was semi-responsive to people’s questions. I suggested calling 911. It was a weird situation because though she didn’t seem to be doing well, she also didn’t seem to be about to pass out or anything like that. The ambulance came, and took her to hospital. It turned out she had pulmonary edema – her lungs filled up with water (from her body). I don’t know what her oxygen level was upon arrival but it was so low they were ready to intubate her."
I asked my friend what would have happened if she hadn't gotten to the hospital as soon as she had, and he said it wasn't clear.
I then suggested that given the danger she was in, he had probably saved her life by requesting the ambulance when he had. He demurred, and said that if he hadn't done so, someone else undoubtedly would have.
I told him I thought he very well could have saved her life, or at least saved her from brain damage or some other permanent injury, and that he should file that away for their next argument.
Again, he demurred and said he was just happy she was okay.
I know that if I were in his situation I'd use it to my advantage. (Have you ever seen a movie where the hero saves the girl's life and then doesn't get her?)
Granted, this woman is already his girlfriend. But saving her life has got to be good for some kind of leverage.
Were I in my friend's position, I don't think I'd even be subtle about it: "Hey, I just saved your life. As far as I'm concerned, at this point, I basically own you."