When hockey player's heart stopped on the ice, CPR and an AED saved him

Updated: Jul 19, 2019


Jib Street (left) with Dr. Craig Bryant, the doctor who saved his life at a pickup hockey game. (Photo courtesy of Jib Street)

If Jib Street's heart had to stop, the perfect moment was on Jan. 18 while he was playing hockey at the Pineville Ice House in Pineville, North Carolina.

An emergency room doctor also was playing.

The rink had an AED.

An ambulance was blocks away.

A hospital was about 2 miles away.

Jib was wearing a helmet and pads, protecting him when he collapsed.

The chill of the ice preserved his organs during the six minutes they were starved of oxygen.

And atop all those crucial elements was a quirky one: A surveillance camera captured it all.

The video of Jib's heart stopping and restarting landed him on Fox News, the "Today" show, "Inside Edition," national TV and radio across his native Canada, and countless more outlets. He and his lifesaver were honored at an NHL game. Jib has even toured the factory where the AED that saved him was made.

Inspired by responses to his story, Jib is working to put it to even better use.

He's launching a campaign across multiple levels of hockey and other sports in the U.S. and Canada that will be aimed at educating people about CPR and AEDs. It's a perfect message to share this first week of June, as it is CPR and AED Awareness Week. And Jib is the perfect pitchman.

***

Jib grew up in Vancouver. An adept skier, he competed professionally and with Canada's national team in moguls as a teen and young adult. He also excelled in basketball, rugby, cross country and track.

But like most Canadian kids, his passion was hockey.

Over the years, Jib played with and against many future NHL players. He also coached many youngsters who went on to play college and pro hockey, several reaching the NHL. He also coached multiple championship teams, including one at the top level of youth hockey in Canada.

In the early 2000s, Jib moved to Aspen, Colorado, to run sales and marketing for a company that developed ski resorts. He eventually left to run his own real estate company.

After a difficult divorce, Jib settled on a lake outside Charlotte. He stocked his office with hockey memorabilia, including mannequins wearing jerseys signed by Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Brett Hull, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. The Gretzky jersey was his most prized possession.

Jib also was a regular at Friday afternoon pickup games at the Pineville Ice House. Everyone in town knew that was the time and place for the most experienced players.

As of Jan. 18, Jib hadn't played since around Thanksgiving. He was eager to get back in action, partly to knock off the rust before an upcoming game with his son. Another reason: On New Year's Day, he'd quit drinking, started eating healthier and began going to the gym.

So as Jib drove to the Ice House, he was eager to see how his improved fitness would pay off.

***

About 12 minutes into the first game, Jib skated by the opposing goalie to head toward the other end of the ice. Jib wobbled a bit after changing directions, took two strides and veered right.

He kept veering until landing hard on his right shoulder. An opponent glided over to check on him.

Another opponent, Dr. Craig Bryant, skated in with more urgency.

He determined that Jib had no pulse, wasn't breathing and wasn't responsive.

"Dial 911!" Craig screamed.

He knew it was time to start CPR – something he was accustomed to doing on the job but had never done outside a hospital. He also told players to fetch the rink's AED.

When the AED arrived, the machine advised that Jib needed a shock to try restoring his heart's rhythm. About the same time, the ambulance arrived.

By 12:20, Jib was breathing again.

By 12:22, Jib was on a gurney, headed to an ambulance. Players who thought they'd just seen someone die were now in awe of what else they saw. They responded by tapping their sticks on the ice, hockey's traditional salute offering respect and appreciation.

***

At the hospital, doctors discovered that an artery in Jib's heart was completely clogged – and had been for a while.

He'd previously suffered a heart attack. That or a hereditary heart problem likely triggered his cardiac arrest on the ice. (While often considered interchangeable, they're not. Think of a heart attack as a plumbing problem and cardiac arrest as a power outage.)

Doctors determined that Jib needed open-heart surgery. But not immediately. Four days later, doctors implanted a device that monitors his heart's rhythm and can shock him back to life should the power go out again. It's formally known as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. His has been dubbed The DeJibrillator.


https://www.heart.org/

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