RAYMONd, NH – With about three minutes left to go in a tie game between the Raymond and Epping junior varsity girls' basketball game on Monday night, a referee collapsed on the gymnasium floor, unconscious and not breathing.
What happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
An off-duty EMT and two nurses, as well as the school's contracted athletic trainer, attended to the man as more than 200 spectators were evacuated calmly to the school's cafeteria.
The four people performed CPR on the referee and then used an AED, a portable defibrillator purchased for the gym just one year ago. Life returned to the man, who has not yet been identified, and he was talking to paramedics before being transported to Exeter Hospital.
As of Tuesday morning, the man was in the intensive care unit and his condition was improving, Raymond Police Chief David Salois said.
Raymond High School Athletic Director, Davinney Brazeau, was at the scene when the referee collapsed and was revived. She said the man had suffered a heart attack but the quick response, and availability of the AED, may have saved his life.
"It is truly amazing what took place in the gym last night," Brazeau said.
Brazeau said everything came together, including the presence of EMT Samantha Larrabee. Her grandmother sells tickets at the games, and she had come to wish her a happy birthday. The two nurses, Cyndi Campbell and Jami Dion, are parents of student athletes and athletic trainer, Mike Thompson was hired through Access Sports Medicine for all home games.
"As far as the medical personnel that was on hand, you couldn't ask for a better scenario if something like that had to happen," Brazeau said. "We were lucky they were there and that we have that AED right there. It was truly amazing."
Brazeau said she could not believe how smoothly people evacuated the gymnasium and how calm they were given the situation.
"The kids and the fans and the other officials, everybody was just willing to pitch in and lend a hand and make that all work," Brazeau said. "It was dead silent, everybody was just moving."
The junior varsity teams resumed their game after about 40 minutes. Raymond lost.
Superintendent Jeanne Richards said referees are hired through the NHIAAA and the man is not from Raymond.
Richards said there has been an AED near the high school cafeteria for about four years, and another was purchased for the middle school two years ago.
"We think they are very important to have," Richards said. "They are absolutely life-saving devices." Richards said the presence of medical personnel was fortunate.
"I think whether or not you are on duty, it is always the first thought in your heart. My sister is an ER nurse and it wouldn't be a second thought. If you are there and you have the skills, then you use them," Richards said.
Salois said all four people involved in reviving the man deserve credit.
"He had so many people looking out for him. Fifteen minutes later and he could have been leaving the game or in his car. It is amazing it happened at that particular moment and the people that were at the game," Brazeau said. "It is quite a miracle that took place."