Access for indoor walkers will be the south entrance door of Kal Tire Place, facing 43rd Avenue, along the brick wall. (City of Vernon)

Remember when a Vernon arena attendant saved a hockey player?

In Good News 2020 takes a look back at some of Vernon’s best ‘feel good’ stories in a year that pretty much sucked

In a year unlike any other, the Vernon Morning Star is looking back at the bright side of 2020. Here is a story published March 11, 2020, that really highlights how far this community will go for its neighbour.

An arena attendant helped save the life of a Vernon hockey player after he was struck with a cardiac incident Feb. 21 at Kal Tire Place.

Doug Ross, City of Vernon’s director of recreation services, said it was the perfect set of circumstances that led to the man being saved.

The arena attendant, who isn’t normally scheduled for this time slot, was nearby when a rec league that normally plays Friday afternoons was gearing up to play.

At the normal playtime of around 2:30 p.m., the attendant didn’t hear any sound coming from the rink, which is unusual, Ross said.

“Normally you hear pucks, or yelling,” he said.

“But the attendant didn’t hear anything. This was a message to the attendant that something was going on.”

Opening the end gates to the ice, the attendant noticed the players were huddling around the bench.

His alarms started going off.

The attendant, who has some first aid training, rushed to the bench and quickly assessed the man’s condition and realized he was in cardiac arrest.

The players alerted the attendant they had already called 911.

“Being assisted by the players, the attendant got the man down to where he could perform CPR,” Ross said.

AED defibrillators are kept near the players’ benches in a common hallway that leads to the dressing rooms, Ross said.

The team had already grabbed the machine but hadn’t started using it yet.

The attendant told members of the team to begin setting it up and follow the machine’s directions.

“These machines are pretty intuitive,” Ross said.

“They got the pads onto the gentleman and it immediately assessed and indicated it needed to do a shock.”

Following the first shock, the attendant continued to do compressions.

The machine monitored the man and advised to skip a shock, but after its third reading, another shock was administered.

“They did notice a difference in breathing,” Ross said.

“Shortly after, paramedics and the fire department responded and took over the patient.”

The following Monday, city recreation services received an update from the team saying their teammate was recovering in ICU and he seemed to be in good spirits.

It is reported the man has since had a pacemaker installed.

The man and his wife paid a special visit to the arena attendant on March 3, to offer their thanks for his efforts.

“That was good for our attendant to hear,” Ross said.

This level of first aid training is not typically used by arena attendants, Ross said.

Lifeguarding staff, for instance, have substantial first aid training and have been involved in several successful rescues.

But for an arena attendant, this isn’t one of recreation services’ expectations of its employees, according to the director.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” Ross said.

“He saw there was an issue and jumped right in there and took initiative and allowed his training to take over. Good for him.”

A lot of things went right in this incident, Ross said.

First, the arena was equipped with an AED and it was centrally located in an easy-to-access area; second, the team had already called 911; and third, the arena attendant, who normally works a night shift, was nearby when the cardiac arrest occurred.

Ross said this isn’t the first time a player has suffered cardiac arrest before on the ice, but he is not aware of a situation where one of his staff has been able to assist to this extent.

“It’s nice the gentleman came back because it closes the loop for that staff person,” Ross said.

“It was a good experience for him.”

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