Dave Jenkins is enjoying an unusual fall in the Okanagan.
Rather than join the Ontario deer hunt, as he ordinarily would do, climbing colourful hills in the crisp autumn air, he’s on the sidelines of hockey games, waiting for his breastbone to heal after a quadruple bypass.
On the morning of Friday, Aug. 22, Jenkins suffered a cardiac arrest in the second period of a hockey game, seeming to implode as his heart stopped.
“We yelled for the defibrillator from the bench and the guys were right on it,” said Steve Barry, spokesperson for the Ogopogo hockey team. “We called 911. We did all the things we knew to do. It was just a shadow image of the first time.”
Eight years ago, the Ogopogo senior men’s hockey club purchased an AED defibrillator and the team had just used it for the first time in March to save the life of Dennis Savage, another player.
The printouts gleaned from the life-saving device after Savage’s cardiac arrest were turned into extra training material so all 90 players in the league could learn from the experience.
Their efforts worked brilliantly, although the legwork to save two lives began almost a decade before the payoff.
“In 2006, one of our players came up with a plan to buy an automated defibrillator for the team,” explained Barry. “He said, come on guys, we’re getting to an age where this stuff counts.”
Not everyone was in favour, and Savage admits he was one of the more reluctant, eventually agreeing to throw in the $40 required when it was put to a vote.
“I just figured, I don’t need it, but I guess if it’s going to help somebody down the line…” Savage said. As it would turn out, he was the first. And ironically, he was the one to place the machine on the bench the day the team needed it to perform the rescue—a task he performed again on the day Jenkins collapsed.
“Even the doctors at the hospital said, if it wasn’t for them getting on it right away, I wouldn’t be here,” Savage said in an interview to help publicize a free CPR training course being held in West Kelowna this weekend.
The seminar will run Sunday, Nov. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m,. at Mount Boucherie Secondary School, and provide an opportunity for people to learn lifesaving Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED), as well as understand the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.
Neither Jenkins nor Savage were aware of their heart problems, although Savage now says he had symptoms—breathlessness, dizzy spells and the odd leg cramp after a run.
It took the team 13 minutes to revive him, with six players rotating through CPR shifts, while two hooked up and manned the defibrillator. And despite eight years of periodic training, team members learned their technique was imperfect.
“Our compressions averaged 1.48 inches,” said Berry, drawing from the information the 56-page printout the defibrillator delivered on their efforts to save Savage.
“Two inches is what they recommend. We thought we were really giving it and we were only at an inch and a half. At two inches, you almost feel like you are really hurting the person.”
Both players have learned their hockey careers should not end because of the incident.
Staying as active as possible is among the recommendations their doctors and lifestyle coaches have provided, and Jenkins intends to return to the ice in the spring, just as Savage has already done.
As for this weekend, Jenkins says he is really hoping people take the two hours to learn about the technique which saved his life.
“If you want to do something that’s important, well this is one of the most important things,” he said. “It’s easy to take a short course and it certainly is important when someone needs it.”
Register for this free training program offered by the Heart & Stroke Foundation through Eventbrite or simply show up at Mount Boucherie Secondary School this Sunday, Nov. 9, between 1 and 3 p.m.