Newfoundland hockey goalie Patrick O’Brien wasn’t scheduled to start Sunday afternoon, but he wound up making the save of a lifetime.
The paramedic, who plays for the Senior Hockey League’s Gander Flyers, was in the locker room getting ready for a game against the Corner Brook Royals when he was called on to help resuscitate a fan who had gone into cardiac arrest.
“I had my skates and one goalie pad on when my coach ran into the room and told me someone had collapsed on the ground,” O’Brien, 26, told the Star.
He found Gander Mayor Claude Elliot and Flyers’ board member Tom Whalen, both former paramedics, aiding the patient, who was lying at the foot of a set of stairs in the stands.
“I just jumped in and assisted with the CPR and started doing chest compressions,” O’Brien said.
The men were preparing to use the community centre’s defibrillator when the ambulance showed up. The patient, a middle-aged man, was flown to St. John’s for treatment and is reportedly in stable condition.
“Usually when you get to that point, things aren’t looking too good, but he was pretty lucky to go down where he did,” said O’Brien.
The netminder completed his paramedic training in June and in August started working for Central Health Newfoundland. Although the situation was stressful, he said it’s something he’s trained to deal with.
“I was more worried about the fact that I hadn’t played in a while.” He did go on to relieve the starting goaltender in the second period.
The crowd cheered and clapped following the incident, said O’Brien, and the men are being praised as local heroes. “It’s been quite amazing; it’s not something I expected at all,” he said.
Whalen agreed. “You don’t do things to be in the limelight,” he said. “We just did what we were trained to do.”