San Mateo hockey teammates help avert tragedy | Local News

A San Mateo championship hockey game nearly ended in tragedy after a player went into cardiac arrest on the ice before quick-thinking teammates saved his life.

Hockey player Land Ormiston was just a few minutes into his Tuesday night game on May 24 when he suddenly collapsed while chasing the puck. Teammates Will Porter and Boris Amchislavsky and opponent Evan Roberts hastened to his aid, providing CPR and defibrillator help for long enough to get him to a hospital and safety.

Roberts began giving him chest compressions, with Ormiston still unconscious and breathing irregularly. Ice rink workers brought out a defibrillator, which Porter then applied to Ormiston’s chest. Over the next five minutes, the defibrillator evaluated Ormiston and advised Porter to shock him twice over two cycles before deciding on a third cycle a third shock was no longer needed. Roberts worked to remove Ormiston’s equipment and clothes in between shocks while others called 911 or cleared a space for emergency workers and paramedics. Amchislavsky, a teammate with Ormiston who helped him when he collapsed, credited teammates and opponents for working together and making a difference.

“As soon as we saw that he stopped breathing, we thought, not what do we do, but let’s get to this,” Amchislavsky said.

Cardiac arrest causes the heart to stop beating, resulting in no oxygen to the brain. The medical emergency can result in death or neurological damage unless there is immediate medical attention. The cardiac arrest was triggered by artery blockage, with Ormiston unaware of the condition and displaying no warning signs beforehand. A fit athlete at 55, he exercises four times a week and plays hockey three times a week.

Ormiston doesn’t remember collapsing and only remembers waking up in the ICU wing of Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, disoriented and heavily sedated. He initially thought he had fainted and only pieced things together over the following day. Over the next few days, he went through tests and an angiogram to insert a catheter to inspect and clean out the artery. If his cardiac arrest happened under different circumstances, such as alone or without a defibrillator, it could have resulted in his death.

“It was a case where the group of people who happened to be on hand in that situation was just the right people I needed,” Ormiston said. “They saved my life, and I’m forever grateful to them,”

After paramedics took Ormiston off the ice, people anxiously waited for news over a group text thread, with many worried throughout the night.

“In all honesty, I thought he was going to die,” Roberts said. “It seemed very likely he was going to die, especially in the condition that he left. Hearing that he was in some form stable and recovering was joyous news.”

Ormiston is recovering at home but is already back to work as a chief product officer for an educational technology company called LEARNSWELL. He has already begun light exercises and aims to return to playing hockey in six weeks. A lifelong hockey fan, he has played hockey since he was 5 and plays in multiple leagues. Ormiston has two kids, a son who recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and a teenage daughter. His recovery has been helped by having both of them around.

“It means everything for me to be here recuperating with my family,” Ormiston said.

The two teams were playing in the Belmont Cup Championship, a culmination of the adult league season in the Belmont Cup Hockey League. The close-knit group knows each other or has played with each other. The adult four-on-four recreational hockey league was started in Belmont before moving to the Nazareth Ice Rink at the Bridgepointe Shopping Center in San Mateo. The May 24 championship game was rescheduled for a week later on May 31, which Ormiston attended, allowing him to thank the three and give them some candy lifesavers for each one.

“When I first spotted those guys, we came together, and I just wrapped my arms around them and gave them a great big hug, and I told them, thank you for saving my life, and I’m so lucky you were there for me,” Ormiston said.

“It was a touching and emotional moment to see him be OK,” Roberts said.

Ormiston said his cardiac arrest only reinforced his belief that the local hockey community is full of compassionate, caring and intelligent people who rise to the occasion.

“I’ve always really admired the hockey community and proud to be part of it, but never more so than now,” Ormiston said.

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