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OJHL Team Staff Members Save Pick-up Player's Life after Suffering Heart Attack

A player who was participating in a pick-up game suffered a life-threatening heart-attack while on the ice. A trio of staff members from the OJHL were there to help.
Collingwood Blues

This is why there should be defibrillators in every hockey arena. 

On Monday afternoon at Eddie Bush Arena in Collingwood, Ontario, a player who was participating in a pick-up game suffered a life-threatening heart-attack while on the ice. 

Thankfully, that pick-up game happened to be taking place prior to a matchup between the OJHL's Collingwood Blues and Aurora Tigers scheduled for later that afternoon, with the training staff from both teams being on hand at the time of the incident. 

After witnessing the player collapse to the ice, trainers Jen Vaicunas of Aurora and Lindsey O’Neil of Collingwood immediately lept into action to come to his aid, signaling for someone nearby to retrieve the defibrillator from the arena lobby. Aurora head coach Greg Johnston was alerted of the incident as he entered the rink and rushed to help, as well. 

Johnston, who had previously played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, works as a constable with the Barrie Police Service and had reportedly already administered CPR twice before while on duty. 

As Vaicunas and O'Neil worked the defibrillator, Johnston took over CPR duties until paramedics and emergency services arrived on the scene. According to Johnston, the victim was breathing, albeit labored, when taken to the hospital. 

Shortly thereafter, the victim's family announced that he is in stable condition. 

“This situation goes to show the value of having AEDs in every sporting complex,” Johnston told the OJHL following the incident. 

“Without it, this would have been a lot more of a battle. It’s a different scenario if we don’t have that 1 o’clock game on Family Day. He’s got two trained trainers with him. If they’re not there, it’s a different story. 911 is called immediately because our teams and league have protocols in place. If something happens, these things fall into place.”

The Blues are apparently planning to hold a pre-game ceremony to honor the three first responders when the Tigers come into town for their next game later this season.  

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