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Hockey trainers, coach help revive man who had heart attack at rink

'You take so many courses in CPR and you think you’re never really going to need to use it. I’m glad I had that training and those skills in that situation,' trainer says
2022-02-23 Lindsay JO-001
Collingwood Blues volunteer assistant trainer Lindsey O'Neill.

The actions of a Collingwood Blues trainer may have saved a man’s life this week.

On Family Day (Feb. 21), a Collingwood man suffered a heart attack while playing in a weekly drop-in hockey session before the Collingwood Blues afternoon game at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena.

Collingwood Blues volunteer assistant trainer Lindsey O’Neill, along with the trainer and head coach with the Aurora Tigers jumped onto the ice, used an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on him and performed CPR until the Collingwood Fire Department and Simcoe County paramedics arrived.

“This was definitely kind of a life-changing experience for me,” O’Neill said. “You take so many courses in CPR and you think you’re never really going to need to use it. I’m glad I had that training and those skills in that situation.”

Shortly before 11 a.m. on Monday, O’Neill said she was at the arena preparing for a home game that was slated to take place at 1 p.m.

“One of our players ran to me saying that someone had collapsed on the ice,” said O’Neill. “I ran out and there was a man lying on the ice. He had no vital signs and wasn’t breathing. He was turning blue.”

O’Neil says she started CPR right away while Aurora trainer Jen Vaicunas and Aurora head coach Greg Johnston ran over to assist. Johnston is a former NHL player who finished his playing career with the Orillia Tundras senior men's team.

Arena staff rushed to call 911, and grabbed the arena’s AED.

“I gave him a shock, and we continued with CPR until the paramedics arrived,” she said. “I was stressed and my adrenaline was pumping.”

“In those situations, you just kind of react,” said O’Neill.

When the paramedics and the fire department arrived, O’Neill said the man was taking a breath every few seconds.

Collingwood Fire Chief Ross Parr confirmed the man was breathing on his own when he was taken to hospital by Simcoe County paramedics.

“It’s overwhelming. I’ve never done anything like this. I’m proud and grateful that he survived and he’s doing OK right now,” said O’Neill.

“There’s been an overwhelming response. A lot of people are reaching out to me saying thank you,” she said.

Parr said the incident speaks to the importance of citizens having first-aid and AED training, because you never know when an emergency situation might occur.

“The idea behind those public access defibrillators is that anybody can use them,” he said. “Defibrillation is good, but it works in conjunction with CPR.”

Parr says everyone at the arena jumped into action in exactly the way they should in an emergency situation.

“The arena staff really did their job there too. It was really good,” he said.

The Collingwood Blues awarded O’Neill the honour of Player of the Game on Monday. They’re planning a pre-game ceremony to thank the trio of responders when Aurora visits Collingwood later this season.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 14 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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