Nova Scotia

Halifax hockey player saved by defibrillator

Paul Chaisson, 52, of Halifax, is lucky to be alive after going into full cardiac arrest while playing hockey last Wednesday night at the Centennial Arena.

Paul Chaisson, 52, of Halifax, is lucky to be alive after going into full cardiac arrest while playing hockey last Wednesday night at the Centennial Arena.

Chaisson said he started to feel dizzy while skating across the ice a little after midnight on Jan. 20.

"I saw the lights were getting funny and I knew I was going down," Chaisson said Monday. "So I braced myself for it, and that was it."

A paramedic from the opposing team rushed to his side, as did his teammate, Dr. Kirk Magee, who happens to be an ER doctor.

"As I got closer, Ken said he wasn't breathing," Magee said. "So we turned him over, and we called for the defibrillator."

The assistant manager rushed for the defibrillator that's kept at the arena. The life-saving device delivers an electric shock to the heart to get it back into rhythm or started again. 

"Every minute that you wait for a defibrillator is time lost and potentially a life lost," Magee said.

The arena manager gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while the experts did CPR and used the defibrillator. Within minutes, they had a pulse.

Coming to, Chaisson still had his mind on the game.

"My teammates were all hovered around me and I wanted to get up right away. And the first thing I said to them [was]: 'Did they call the game?'"

Magee said having the defibrillator at the arena made the difference between life and death. "It's an important tool that not only arenas, but all facilities that see a lot of people using it for sports … I think it's an excellent idea."

After everything he's been through, Chaisson agrees.

"Make sure you have the right equipment and people trained to use it," he said. "They should be certified."

Chaisson plans to sit out the rest of the season will still be on the sidelines.

"As soon as I'm released from hospital, I'll go back to the rink," he said. And he doesn't plan to stay away from playing hockey for too long.

"I can't stay off the ice. It's just in my blood," he said, adding he loves "the camaraderie, the games, the fun, the exercise — the whole thing."

Cape Breton cardiologist Paul MacDonald says there should be a portable defibrillator in every arena.

"It really is catching on, but I'm not sure it's catching on because of the advice of physicians. It usually catches on after an unfortunate and tragic event in the community," he said. "So, it certainly, I think, is very advisable to get these in place before these events happen."

More than 50 of Nova Scotia's 78 arenas have portable defibrillators. Since 2007, the province has paid one-third of the cost of the $1,500 machines.

MacDonald once conducted a study of the effects of playing hockey on middle-aged men. He found that even healthy men have heart attacks during hockey because of the extra stress on their hearts. MacDonald said men should get into shape to play hockey — not play hockey to get into shape.

now