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New Westminster cop advocates for CPR training after saving hockey player's life
Published Wednesday, May 2, 2018 6:25PM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 2, 2018 7:02PM PDT
An off-duty New Westminster police officer is being hailed as a hero for performing life-saving CPR on a man who collapsed at a local hockey rink.
Const. Curtis Heath was at Planet Ice on Monday, March 12 waiting for his own team's game to start when he noticed a "commotion on the ice."
"I figured somebody was injured," he said, but that he soon noticed someone performing CPR on a 27-year-old player who had gone into cardiac arrest.
"From what I saw, I believe he was dead for three or four minutes."
That's when the officer jumped into action.
"I realized (the first aid) wasn't being done the way it should've been done, so I just went and offered my assistance," he said. "CPR is something you get very tired quickly doing, so I went and offered and told them I was an off-duty police officer and had first aid training."
Heath said in eight years with the police force, he'd never actually had to use CPR, but the training quickly came back to him.
He performed chest compressions for the recommended two minutes before using an automated external defibrillator (AED) on the patient, but the man still didn't have a pulse after being shocked.
Heath then continued with chest compressions for another two minutes, during which the patient began to breathe and the AED detected a pulse.
"You don't really know if it's going to work until you do it on an actual person, and so when I got that first breath, it was a huge sense of relief that what I'm doing actually might be working," he said.
The officer continued to care for the man until first responders arrived.
"It was a fairly panicked situation," he said, but he commended bystanders and staff at the arena for their quick actions.
"Planet Ice was very good at helping out, finding the AED on site, bringing it, blankets… phoning 911, getting fire there as soon as they can. It was a group effort."
And while he doesn't consider his own actions heroic, he said the incident serves as reminder of how important it is for everyone to have first aid training.
"This is a perfect example of why everybody should be taking their one-day course in CPR because you just don't know where this is going to happen," Heath said. "It just so happened—I was there at the right time at the right place. It could've been anybody that was trained in CPR."
First aid trainer Chris Chan of St. John Ambulance said a quick response can make the difference between life and death during a medical emergency, so it's imperative that people know CPR.
"It is super important because doing the CPR, you are extending this person's chance of survival," he said. "So if you're just waiting around... then this person's brain cells are about to die."
Heath said he has been in touch with the man he helped and was happy to hear he'll make a full recovery.
"As a police officer, we sign up to help people," he said. "Most of the time, all of our training is used on the job, but once in a while, it comes in handy in our personal lives and to be able to help a fellow hockey player, it's a wonderful feeling."
After answering some of the first responders' questions, Heath said he still geared up and played hockey that night.
His team won 8-4.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Scott Hurst