EDINA (WCCO) — To Kevin Whipple, Braemar ice arena in Edina will forever be remembered as the place his life nearly ended. On Nov. 26, for several minutes, his body was sprawled onto the ice and he was technically dead.
“The last thing I remember was feeling a little dizzy,” said Whipple.
Whipple has been a youth hockey referee for the better part of 25 years. While working Edina’s annual Thanksgiving youth hockey tournament, the 54-year-old referee suffered cardiac arrest as the second period of his game was winding down. He crashed to the ice instantly and showed no signs of life.
“From what I heard, I was out and had no pulse and no respiration for a period of about four to five minutes,” he said.
Fortunately, the arena was equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED). It was soon in the hands of a Minneapolis firefighter who was working the game as a part-time EMT. In addition, the game’s spectators also included a registered nurse, a physical therapist and a physician.
One second they were total strangers and the next moment they were formed into a lifesaving team.
On Tuesday night, at the monthly Edina city council meeting, the lucky referee and his rescuers were back together. For Kevin, it was a chance to once again pass along his “thanks.” But for the city council, it was a special moment to present the rescuers with certificates of meritorious service!
“Great job! I hope we don’t meet again at another arena, right?” said the nurse Mary Kay Hobday to Minneapolis Firefighter, Justin Johnson.
He was at the tournament working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for Blue Line Medical group.
Helping him with CPR and the defibrillator was physical therapist Lisa Lienenger and nurse Hobday. They all agreed that what they did for Kevin is what anyone in their shoes would have done and performing a lifesaving act is akin to a precious gift that anyone can give.
“One shock, that’s what it took to bring me back,” said Whipple.
Now, he believes this holiday season will be the best, thanks to a simple tool in the hands of caring people.
WCCO-TV’s Bill Hudson Reports