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Zamboni drivers help save player’s life after skate slice

Greg Wyshynski
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The Zamboni driver is the high-school janitor of the hockey world: essential, yet constantly under-appreciated. It's always "hey, you missed a spot" or "a little faster, we don't have all day" or "thanks for spraying your noxious exhaust fumes inside of this confined space." And they say even worse things about Zamboni drivers ...

Well, maybe it's time you consider a Zamboni driver's place on your totem of respect. Because they might just save your life one day.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, Rich Mertz, 33, was skating at the Amsoil Arena last Thursday when "in a total freak accident" a friend's skate sliced through his cheek and cut two arteries. His friends tried to shove ice into the wound, but blood continued to pump out. He was moved to a hallway … and that's when Thomas Lund and Aaron Hinnenkamp, the arena's Zamboni drivers, sprung to action.

From Brandon Stahl of the Tribune:

Fortunately for Mertz, the 21-year-old Lund is a trained emergency medical technician who needs only to take a written test to become fully certified. "There was blood absolutely everywhere," Lund said. "I was terrified at first, but I had to remain calm to help him remain calm. Once he knew we were calm and relaxed, it helped him calm down."

Hinnenkamp, 19, immediately called 911 and ran to get Lund five or six towels. After Lund got Mertz to a locker room and off his feet, he removed a jersey a friend had placed on the wound. "All I could see was this huge open gash," he said.

When he applied the towels, "I had 50 to 60 pounds of my body weight on you," Lund told Mertz on Thursday, the first time the three met since the accident. "And blood was still pumping out."

Eventually, firefighters and paramedics responded, Mertz was taken to a hospital and his arteries were cauterized after losing around two pints of blood. He's still recovering from the surgery.

Check out the full story on the News Tribune site. And yes, after they may have helped save a man's life, Lund and Hinnenkamp had to get back on the rink and scrap off the blood. Such is the life of the Zamboni Driver.

s/t Rhett Ambrose for the story.

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