Thursday’s girl’s basketball game at O’Gorman High School seemed like just another contest in a long basketball season. But, when the game reached halftime, the action off the court got much more attention than anything on the court.
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Referee Dan Sudbeck was part of a three-man crew working Thursday’s O’Gorman-Yankton basketball game. He retreated to the coach’s lounge at halftime and sat down in this chair. But soon, his fellow refs noticed Sudbeck was slumping to the floor. Trainer Rochelle Lauret came in from the other room with the school’s defibrillator.
“I had the shirt cut straight up and had the AED on him immediately,” Lauret said. “And then, the machine just takes care of everything after that. It assesses whether there’s a shockable heart rhythm, so it just took care of it and told me what to do basically.”
“We stood back and pushed the button, and all it took was one shot,” said Lauret, in her 12th year as O’Gorman’s athletic trainer. “We continued to do compressions, but you could tell he was breathing on his own after that. When the EMTs got there, he was already answering questions about his medical history.”
“Our referees’ room is five feet from the defibrilator in our training room, so the logistics were fine, but just having them in the building, I can see now that can save lives,” O’Gorman athletic director Steve Kueter said.
Kueter says Lauret’s been a trainer for the Knights for more than a decade. And her quick thinking made the best out of a very bad situation.
“I usually have it on the bench with me at the game and it’s underneath my chair,” Lauret said. “But that night, I had not taken it out there with me for some reason. And so, I just grabbed it, I was probably 15 feet away from him with my AED.”
O’Gorman has three defibrillators on campus, provided by local health partners. While Lauret’s been trained with them, Thursday night was the first time she had had ever used one in an emergency.
“The further away from it I get, the more freaked out I get,” Lauret said. “But I also told my family I want to carry it with me everywhere I go. I just feel like I have to have it with me now because I’m like, you never know.”
The scene on Thursday night not only reminded people of the importance of a defibrillator, but of life in general.
“It makes you rethink a lot of things,” Kueter said. “And the idea of providing the equipment and providing the training has always been there, but now it’s just become much more of a priority in our minds from last night how good that is.”
The Sudbeck family released a statement Friday afternoon thanking everyone for their prayers and concerns. Dan underwent bypass surgery and is currently resting.
“I sat down, maybe a minute or two and it felt like I was going to faint,” Sudbeck said.
In fact he remembers everything up until that point, up until his heart just stopped.
He had no chest pain, no shortness of breath. The next thing he remembers is commotion in the coach’s lounge and people asking if he knew where he was.
“I said ‘yea I’m at OG, the score is 29-28.’ And then one of them said, ‘do you remember getting shocked?’ And I said, ‘shocked? No I don’t remember getting shocked!’” Sudbeck said.
“I couldn’t have been in a better situation. I mean I’ve got two qualified trainers that are there, we’ve got a defibrillator right there. I’m two miles from the Heart Hospital. I mean the stars were aligned perfectly that night,” Sudbeck said.
“I think without that AED, I probably would not be here,” Sudbeck said.
Coincidentally, working with the Avera Heart Hospital and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Sudbeck’s wife Pat had been instrumental in getting AEDs placed in schools, churches and businesses and teaching people how to use them.
“I always knew my training would impact somebody I knew or somebody I loved. But I never dreamt in a hundred years that would be my own husband,” Pat said.