Cloverdale hockey parents Gerry Lieper, Garry Bruce, BWC parents Lucia Milosavljevic and Paul Conners, saved the life of a fellow hockey parent using the defibrillator at the North Surrey Recreation Centre hockey rink.
From the Vancouver Sun
METRO VANCOUVER -- The teenage players on the Burnaby Winter Club midget hockey team may have won last Thursday’s game against Cloverdale, but it was a group of parents who made the save of the day.
Moments after his son’s team scored the winning goal at the North Surrey Recreation Centre, one of the Burnaby fathers collapsed from a heart attack.
As the 50-year-old man lay on the floor unconscious, paramedics were called. But if it hadn’t been for a few CPR-trained hockey parents and a talking defibrillator, the man might not have survived.
The Burnaby team scored with 30 seconds left in the game for a 2-1 win, so there was a lot of cheering and noise — then confusion and chaos as several parents from both teams rushed over to the man, who had fallen down some steps.
Hockey dad Gerry Lieper, whose son Parker plays for Cloverdale, said at first he didn’t know what was going on, and thought the man might be having a seizure. Then fellow team dad Garry Bruce yelled “Get the defibrillator,” and they yanked it off the wall, causing an alarm to go off.
“Everyone was standing around not knowing what to do at first. It was freaky,” he said. “His wife was crying and panicking.”
Burnaby parent Lucia Milosavljevic is a nurse in the cardiac unit of St. Paul’s Hospital, so she checked for a pulse and couldn’t find one. She began CPR and helped put the defibrillator on the man’s chest.
“It was the slickest gadget,” Lieper said. “It told us to call 911. … And then it was checking his vital signs and checking for a heartbeat.”
Bruce, also trained in CPR, said he felt anxious in the moment and was trying to get everything done quickly.
In 2013, the federal government began rolling out automated external defibrillators, known as AEDs, at ice rinks across Canada, as part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s election promise to fund a $10-million project to upgrade 3,000 arenas. The B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation, through its own fundraising and a matching donation from the provincial government, already had a program to put AEDs in recreation centres in B.C.
Milosavljevic, whose friend’s 35-year-old husband died eight years ago playing hockey before the devices were introduced at rec centres, said the Burnaby father did not receive a shock from the defibrillator. “It won’t shock if you have already flatlined,” Milosavljevic said.
But the talking device told the parents what to do.
“The fact that we had access to it was really important. Because of my friend and all the fundraising she has done on behalf of her husband, now all the community centres and ice rinks have them,” Milosavljevic added.
A heart attack, which occurs when a blocked artery cuts off blood to the heart, is different from going into cardiac arrest, and should not be treated with a defibrillator. The automated defibrillator scans the patient and lets the users know whether the patient needs a jolt.
Milosavljevic said her friend’s husband was in cardiac arrest and needed a defibrillator, and if the rink had one he might still be alive. She said during Thursday’s incident, they didn’t know what was happening, so it was extremely helpful to have the automated defibrillator.
“It advised us not to shock and continue with CPR. And every two minutes it analyzes the rhythm to see if anything has changed. If it requires a shock, it will shock. But you don’t know that if you don’t have the equipment,” she said.
The three parents, along with Paul Conners, the manager of Burnaby Winter Club midget hockey, took turns doing compressions until the paramedics arrived.
Conners described the situation as surreal. “If this had happened half an hour later while he was driving the car or in his sleep, I think the outcome would have been much different,” he said.
The man apparently had surgery this past weekend and is expected to make a full recovery.
In Surrey, all of the rec centres and hockey arenas now have AEDs, according to North Surrey Recreation Centre manager Sherri Gosse. Although she didn’t know how many times it had been used at North Surrey since it was installed in 2009, she said Thursday wasn’t the first time it had been deployed.
Shelley Parker, the resuscitation program manager for the B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation, said an average of 2,000 people die each year from cardiac arrest in B.C. She said although they are not provincially mandated, most B.C. recreation centres now have AEDs.
Also, many hockey clubs have their own with the families chipping in to buy the machine, which costs between $1,500 and $2,000, including the Ogopogo senior men’s team in Kelowna, which last year used the device to save two players, one in March and the other in August.