Quick thinking, AED unit save referee at Argyle game

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by Pete Tobey Feb 5, 2023

Courtesy The Post Star 


Quick thinking and a nearby AED unit may have saved a man’s life Friday night at Argyle Central School.

One of the referees working the girls basketball game between Argyle-Fort Edward and visiting Whitehall appeared to go into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the court.

Several people rushed to his side, administering CPR and using the automated external defibrillator (AED) to revive the 64-year-old man.

“After we administered the AED, he popped out of it, which is a very good thing, he was alert,” said Boyd Hunt, the Whitehall girls basketball coach, who was first to the referee’s side. “The really good thing is me and him were joking when he was leaving for the ambulance. I talked to him (Saturday) morning and he was doing well.”


“Everyone involved in helping this guy was amazing,” said Dave Jones, the announcer at Argyle basketball games. “They were quick, they were right there. He asked what the score was when they were getting him ready to go to the ambulance, and he gave a thumbs-up when they were taking him out.”


Hunt said there were about four minutes left in the first half of the game when he noticed the referee in some distress.


“It happened right in front of me. I tried to catch him but he fell,” Hunt said. “I was first on the floor with him. He had cut the back of his head pretty good, so I kept compression on it.”

“I heard a thud when (he) went down, and a couple of people rushed over,” said Jason Humiston, the Fort Ann athletic director who was at the game to watch his daughters play for Argyle-Fort Edward. “Someone grabbed the AED and I hooked it up to him. There was a gentleman from Whitehall who is an EMT and a lady from Argyle who is a nurse, and they took the lead, giving instructions.”


Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are required in New York state schools and have been mandated since 2002. The lightweight portable devices, usually visible and mounted to a wall, are used to deliver an electric shock through the chest to the heart to restore normal rhythm in the case of cardiac arrest.


The recent incident involving Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered cardiac arrest while making a tackle during a nationally televised game, has put a focus on the need for AEDs and proper training in CPR.

“The following Monday I was walking down the hallway with our building supervisor, and I asked him where our AED units were, and he showed me,” said Mark Doody, Argyle’s interim principal, who was the on-site administrator at Friday’s game. “You walk by them so many times, you don’t notice them.”


So Doody knew exactly where the closest AED was — just outside the gymnasium — and he grabbed it Friday night.

“The AED units are readily accessible at Argyle, we got it there within 20 seconds,” Humiston said.

In New York state, all coaches are required to be certified in CPR and first aid, and school personnel are trained in using an AED.


“We train on that thing a hundred times — it’s just not the same when things are happening,” Humiston said.

“As much as people dread all of the trainings that we do, that’s the reason we do this,” said Hunt, a physical education teacher at Whitehall. “Our school does it every year. The adrenaline and your training just take over in that situation.”


Hunt said they took turns administering chest compressions before the official was revived.

“We were all working feverishly,” Hunt said. “We all worked very coordinated to save his life. That’s what you’re hoping to do when you do the training.”

Humiston said the nurse and EMT were at the game as fans. Medical personnel are not required at athletic events, although ambulances are usually stationed at football games.


Hunt said Whitehall has several AED units, including three portable units that can be checked out for use by teams at outdoor athletic events or for road games.

The basketball game was suspended and no date to resume has been announced.


“My girls were very worried about his health,” Hunt said. “I’ve been talking to my girls and their parents today, they were a little shaken up.”