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Soccer player saves teammate's life with AED

6th Dec 2014

Soccer player saves teammate's life with AED

EDMONTON - When Matt Austin arrived at the Edmonton Soccer Centre South for a friendly pickup game last month, he never guessed he’d be saving a teammate’s life.

But when 57-year-old Allan Robertson’s heart stopped on the field, Matt, a trained EMT, sprang into action.

“I noticed that Al was laying on the ground and some people hollered for me to come over,” said Austin, 37, who was manning the net at the other end of the indoor field. “I thought maybe he tripped and hit his head.”

Rushing over, Austin knelt beside his teammate, trying to hear the man’s pulse over his own wildly beating heart.

“That’s when I realized he wasn’t breathing, there was no pulse,” said Austin, who has worked as an EMT in Camrose for the last three years. “I realized he’d had a cardiac arrest. I told the group I would start CPR, and asked for someone to call 911.”

An image of a red bag in a glass case by the entrance — the arena’s automated external defibrillator (AED) — suddenly flashed through Austin’s mind.

“I remembered the AED at the front and hollered for someone to grab it,” he said, knowing at the time Robertson’s risk of death was increasing by the second. “I attached it right away and it advised me to shock him, so I did.”

For what Austin describes as five very tense minutes, he alternated between administering cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and shocking his teammate.

“All of a sudden he just took an enormous breath and opened his eyes,” said Austin, adding the ambulance arrived just a few minutes later.

The father of three was taken to the Grey Nuns Hospital, where he was fitted with a defibrillator implant, a permanent reminder of his near brush with death.

Robertson, who’s been playing soccer twice a week for 20 years, says he doesn’t remember a thing, but he’s convinced that without Austin or the arena’s AED, he would not have survived.

Admittedly, the soccer enthusiast says he’s never once wondered if the arena had a defibrillator on site.

“I’m aware of defibrillators and that they do save lives, but I’ve never noticed the one that’s here in this arena,” he said. “And I’ve walked by it many, many times.”

Luckily for Robertson, his teammate had made a mental note of the equipment’s location.

Robertson, and his grateful wife Karen, plan to have Austin over for dinner in the new year.

“We’re also trying to decide on a way to recognize his great deed, to thank him,” said Robertson. “Without him, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be with my family and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this world. I am very, very grateful.”

Source: December 2011