It took about five minutes for Brant Curling Club members to revive Bill Park after he suffered a heart attack last Thursday night.
It was the longest five minutes of their lives.
“Time stops in that kind of situation,” bystander Greg Grummett said. “It felt like everything was taking forever, but it was probably only a minute or two.”
Grummet, council president for the Heart and Stroke Foundation Brantford chapter, was at the Brant Curling Club when Park went into distress. It was Park’s first time back at the club since suffering a heart attack in December.
“He was sitting with some of the guys at a table, watching the game,” Grummett said. “The guys looked over at him and realized something bad was going on.”
Within seconds members Bill Page and Mark Singleton sprang into action.
“Somebody yelled something or somebody noticed something because Bill Page came running up and noticed he was unresponsive,” bystander Sean Bryant said. “They had brought the (Automated External Defibrillator), got him on the floor, opened his shirt and got the machine on him. It analyzes from there and it said he needed a shock.”
Curler Angelo Mancini was called off the ice to assist Park and Singleton with their life-saving efforts.
“I have a heart condition so I carry nitroglycerin with me,” Mancini said during an interview at the 18th Annual Curl for Stroke fundraiser held at the club Friday morning. “I ran up to see if I might help and by then he was gone.”
Mancini subbed in for Singleton to help do chest compressions while Page followed prompts from the AED, which called for another shock.
Park’s brother Bruce was among club members counting the seconds as they waited for a sign of life.
“I lost about 10 years off my life,” Bruce said. “My brother and I are pretty close. We curl together every Wednesday night.”
The quick actions of club members helped revive Park before emergency services arrived.
“He was up and talking,” Bryant said. “In my mind there is no doubt that the combination of CPR training and the equipment and the people that responded quickly saved his life.”
Mancini, Singleton and Page are all city workers and are trained in CPR, which includes AED training. It was the first time Mancini has had to use CPR.
“I really wish that when I had my heart attack in 2006 that there was someone trained there and there wasn’t, so I was at the mercy of having to wait for the ambulance,” he said. “It would have made me feel better (to know someone was certified). I won’t go into a sports facility now or go to an event now unless there is a machine there.
“Even today, I checked to see if (the AED) was back on the wall.”
Members of the club’s senior men’s section purchased the AED about seven years ago after a fellow curler died of a heart attack in the parking lot. This was the second time the machine has been used on a club member.
“I think any facility, whether it be a public building or a privatized employer, should have a machine on the premises,” Mancini said. “My understanding is that with this machine, in Brantford alone, we’ve saved eight lives.”
The incident underscored the importance of fundraisers like Curl for Stroke that raise funds for heart health research and AED machines, Heart and Stroke Foundation Brantford office program co-ordinator Caitlin Morrow said.
“It shows why we are raising funds and what we do,” Morrow said. “Curl for Stroke has raised over $310,000 over 18 years.”
Many members of the club have since expressed interest in AED training.
“Witnessing that type of event, definitely I would be a proponent for everybody, as much as possible, being trained on the machine, or even with basic CPR,” Bryant said. “You never know where you are going to be when that type of situation hits and that training was absolutely critical.”
Park is back home and doing well after a stay in Hamilton General Hospital.
Heart and Stroke Foundation volunteers will be canvassing throughout Brant during Heart Month in February.
People can also make donations to Curl for Stroke at www.fitforheart.ca.