AED, quick action by Steamboat firefighters help save man’s life |

AED, quick action by Steamboat firefighters help save man’s life

Steamboat Springs firefighters and police officers work at Howelsen Ice Arena, where a hockey player had a heart attack Wednesday night.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Quick action by Steamboat Springs firefighters and bystanders helped save the life of a man who had a heart attack Wednesday night while playing hockey at Howelsen Ice Arena.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Capt. Michael Arce said it was the first game of the summer season, and he was headed to the bench when he heard that someone was down on the ice.

"I'm thinking a collision, maybe someone popped a knee," Arce said.

Arce was told the man was having a seizure. John Rockwood, another firefighter, was kneeling down next to the man and assessing him. Wanda Ashbaugh, who is a nurse, also happened to be there.

"Rockwood kind of looked at me and said, ‘we have a problem," Arce said. "He (the man) didn't look good."

Patrick Funk, another hockey player, tilted the man's head back and lifted his chin to keep the man's airway open. Then the man stopped breathing, and they started CPR.

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The ice arena is a city-owned facility, and it is equipped with an AED, which they attached to the man.

"It said shock him, so we did shock him once," Arce said.

The man started breathing again, and they believed they got the man's pulse back. Paramedics took over and then transported the man. He was then flown to a larger hospital.

Arce got a message Thursday morning with an update on the man's condition.

"It sounds like he's going to be OK," Arce said.

Arce did not know who the man was.

"He's new to the league," Arce said. "I've never seen him before."

Arce described the man as being in his late 40s.

Arce said everyone worked really well together to help save the man's life.

"I'm never going to downplay the use of an AED," Arce said. "They save lives, and it's cool that the rink had one."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.