WILMINGTON — It was a very scary scene at Ristuccia Arena Thursday as one fan had a cardiac episode in the stands, stopping the Bruins’ practice and providing Terry Gardner to be an unlikely hero.
Gardner, an EMT, was watching practice from the stands when he heard somebody scream to call 911. He rushed over to the fan and recognized agonal breathing (gasping). He began performing chest compressions on him as uniformed paramedics showed up and used the defibrillator machine to determine that it was a cardiac episode before eventually reviving him and taking him to the hospital.
“It was a cardiac episode,” Gardner explained. “The [defibrillator] picked up a shockable rhythm on him, which means that it was a cardiac issue. It obviously wasn’t a seizure, but it appeared to be at first because at that point he was still moving, he had rapid breathing at first. That’s what it appeared to be at first. It only took a couple seconds before that subsided, and it became apparent that he needed CPR.”
Gardner said that the presence of the defibrillator machine, which was on hand at Ristuccia, was critical in saving the fan.
“They had the defibrillator here on scene, which probably made a world of difference for him,” he said. “If this happened at home, it may not have had such a good outcome.”
The Bruins, meanwhile, all took a knee as fans scattered to make room. Claude Julien then pulled them off the ice until everything was resolved.
“Obviously we knew something was going on in the stands and that it was an emergency,” Julien said. “I don’t know the details of what happened, but all I saw was a bunch of people there on the spot obviously helping. As far as I’m concerned, I thought when we stepped on the ice and found out what was happening, I think the last thing they needed was to hear pucks banging off the glass. I think out of respect we just let them do their job.”
The players were both relieved and thankful to see a fan step up in such a critical situation.
“That’s incredible,” Gregory Campbell said of Gardner’s work. “Obviously that gentleman was lucky to have that. For somebody to have that knowledge is an important thing. You never know when that’s going to come in handy, and that’s very special.”
Gardner showed up to Ristuccia on Thursday planning to watch the B’s practice, but as an EMT, he is always ready to be called to action. The circumstances were certainly different this time around, but he was glad to help.
“Having the spotlight on you is definitely a little weird,” he said. “I don’t normally work with this kind of crowd when we do it coming with the ambulance and stuff like that. It’s definitely a little weird having the Bruins watch you, as opposed to you watching the Bruins. It was a little role reversal.”