By Lethbridge Herald on January 31, 2020.
Tony Deys is enjoying the days of his life.
Six weeks ago, the story could have been much different.
Just 10 days before Christmas, the 52-year-old father of three, popular event emcee and former radio and TV personality, had a heart attack playing rec hockey at the ATB Centre.
He credits his survival to the quick action of his friends, who began to administer CPR immediately, plus the fast integrated response from Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services.
“On December 15, my world was changed forever. I suffered a heart attack playing hockey and through the bystander CPR of some of my not only teammates, but also close friends, and the quick response of the paramedics — I’m here today and I probably shouldn’t be,” an emotional Deys said Friday morning at Fire Station 2 on the westside where he reunited with the team of paramedic/firefighters who helped save his life.
“I can’t say enough about everybody along the way who went above and beyond. We’re talking about the integrated service with the ambulance and the fire. I was one of those ones that when there was a call and I would see an ambulance and a fire truck I would think to myself ‘why?’ Now I know why. I can’t thank them enough. The integrated service is so important because of the knowledge it brings and because of the time it saves. I’m living proof that it works.”
“Today, we got to hear of a good-news story,” said Gerrit Sinke, deputy chief with Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services.
“Often times, the outcome isn’t exactly like we heard of today and yet our dedicated fire and EMS crews work exceptionally hard regardless of what the call is and work really hard for the citizens of Lethbridge. I want to give a thank you out to the crews that day and night, 24/7, 365 days a year, go out on almost 16,000 calls per year.”
Paramedic/firefighter Braden Burton was part of the latest recruit class and started only a month before the Deys incident. He and the response crew arrived to the ATB Centre in mere minutes and were led to Deys.
“The quick response time is huge, but I can’t give enough credit to the fire guys that come along with us. There’s years and years of experience coming behind me on the fire truck, including my partner and all the guys that came with,” Burton said.
“Having all that help is crucial in making a good outcome. We walked in and found him in the dressing room on the floor, unresponsive. Felt that he had no pulse and started CPR and began the entire cardiac arrest process. From there, we got a pulse back, took him to the hospital where they stabilized him and sent him out.”
Deys, who is the executive director for the Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association, was airlifted by STARS to Foothills Hospital in Calgary and was placed in an induced coma. He came out of the coma two days later and began the road to recovery — with limited damage thanks to the quick responses.
Deys, who has had stints as the Lethbridge Hurricanes public address announcer and as in-game host, says he is working on proper exercise and diet and that his heart is now back up to about “80 to 85 per cent.”
He also told The Herald he may be back as the PA announcer for the Canes as soon as the next home game, which is Feb. 8.
“Onward and upward,” Deys said.
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