It was chaos.
Rich Peverley had come off the ice on a line change Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Roughly 30 seconds later, he was keeled over on the Dallas Stars bench.
“I instantly stood on the bench and started screaming up in the crowd for a doctor,” said Coach Lindy Ruff. “And actually there was I think one lady put her hand up. I think she had a Stars jersey on, said she was a doctor. I was just screaming to let the doctors know we needed somebody ASAP and they were there ASAP.”
Ruff knew Peverley’s health history: He had an ‘a-fib’ condition that was treated in the preseason, as doctors shocked his heart to get it back into the proper rhythm. He missed the preseason but felt fine through much of the regular season. Then, last week, Peverley missed a game with Dallas because he “felt strange” but returned to the lineup for games against Vancouver and Minnesota, in which he had three points.
But on Monday, something was very, very wrong.
“I was scared,” said Ruff. “My first emotion was we need somebody here real quick. When he dropped, it was red alert.”
The Dallas Stars medical staff answered the alarm.
Head athletic trainer Dave Zeis and team physician William Robertson carried Peverley by his feet and hands to the back. That’s where a team of medical staff and physicians sprung to action to deal with his “cardiac event.”
“That team is made up of internal medicine doctors, orthopedic surgeons, trauma surgeons, trauma doctors, airway specialists, they’re all here to respond to incidents like this along with the Dallas Fire and Rescue paramedic staff,” said Dr. Bill Robertson, head team physician for the Stars.
How was Peverley treated on-site?
According to Gil Salazar of UT Southwestern Medical Center: “We provided oxygen for him. We started an IV. We did chest compressions on him and defibrillated him, provided some electricity to bring a rhythm back to his heart, and that was successful with one attempt, which is very reassuring.”
It was the standard procedure for a case like this, and Peverley soon regained consciousness. He was transported in an ambulance to St. Paul Hospital, UT-Southwestern St. Paul with his wife at his side, lucid enough to tell Salazar that he wanted to get back in the game. (Hey, he was on a point streak…)
The fast response was indicative of the way medical staffing has changed during NHL games over the years. As former goalie Marty Biron noted last night:
NHL doctors used to sit up in suites or higher levels, most teams mandate doctors to sit right behind the benches now for emergency reasons.— Martin Biron (@martybiron43) March 11, 2014
“I was there firsthand,” said Ruff, “and if it wasn’t for our doctors and all the members reacting so quickly and so efficiently, I could be standing here with a different story. But they did an absolutely fabulous job.”