Swift action saves life

Paramedic Matt Breedyk and firefighter Joe Archer credit having easy access to a defibrillator at the Port Dover Arena in saving their teammate's life during a hockey game. Ashley Taylor/Delhi News Record

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Matt Breedyk’s biggest assist came during his first hockey game of the season in late October.

That’s when the off-duty Norfolk County paramedic jumped into action to help a teammate who was suffering cardiac arrest at the Port Dover Arena.

“When I saw him fall I knew it wasn’t just a normal fall, I knew this was something more than that,” Breedyk said on Oct. 31. “I went out to see what happened.”

The Port Dover resident said it is very rare that an off duty paramedic has to step in in moments like that, and it was the first time it had happened to him.

Two Norfolk volunteer firefighters were also playing hockey that night and joined in to help the ailing player.

Mike and Joe Archer began CPR while Breedyk prepared to use a public access defibrillator. The device delivers a jolt of energy allowing the heart to re-establish a normal rhythm.

“I think having the training that we do it just became natural,” said Joe Archer. “It was just an automatic response, you train to get to that point.”

Archer agreed that such instances are rare, but it was helpful that they had three individuals trained with first aid and CPR, and a defibrillator on hand.

“Having three very well trained people was nice because you know you just have to focus on what you’re doing,” said Archer.

After Breedyk used the defibrillator the teammate began to breathe and his pulse returned.

On-duty paramedics then arrived on the scene and took over the patient’s care. The man’s medical status was not released.

“Having easy access to a defibrillator saved a life that night,” Breedyk, a 10-year veteran with the county service, said in a press release. “It wouldn’t have mattered if there were trained individuals around or not – without that device, things would have been much different.”

Public access defibrillators are located in most county buildings. No formal training is required to use the devices, once the device is activated it will walk users through a step by step process of how use it.

Paramedic Services Chief Sarah Page had words of praise for Breedyk and the firefighters.

“Together with his colleagues in the fire department, Matt took swift action that saved a life,” she said in the release. “Norfolk County is lucky to have paramedics like him who perform this kind of work day in and day out.”