Thanks to the quick response from a team of senior soccer players and trained first responder Lorenzo Simion, an elderly fan of the Aldergrove United Soccer Club is alive to see another game.
During the course of the recent Barry Bauder Memorial Soccer Tournament, longtime sideline-cheerer Victor Brown was watching a morning game when he collapsed. He was in cardiac arrest.
“He was in grave danger,” said Brian Hunter, a player on the over-50s team.
Senior club member Dan Kosovic sprang into action and beckoned Lorenzo Simion, 50, a local player and member of the Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue Team for help.
“I was on the field warming up when Dan called me in saying they have a man collapsed on the side of the field,” Simion explained.
He recalled the grim scene.
“Vic was faced down and non-responsive – he wasn’t breathing. The first thing we did is made sure he was comfortable. Then, I gave him 10 minutes of oxygen through a mask,” Simion recounted.
“Vic came to after receiving the oxygen and starting breathing again,” the SAR member explained, retelling that Vic squeezed his hand upon recognition of the local first responder.
Simion, who brings what he calls “his safety kit” to every game and soccer practice, had charged his automated external defibrillator (AED) that very morning in case of emergency circumstances. Along with the AED, Simion brought a fresh supply of oxygen.
After another 10 minutes, Brown had a hard time breathing again, and slipped out of consciousness.
Paramedics arrived on scene just as Simion was about to administer electric pulses to Brown’s heart with his AED.
Three fireman worked on Vic’s failing condition, Simion said, he recalled their surprise upon seeing his life-saving equipment on the field.
The senior soccer game carried on, and Simion returned to the field 20 minutes late to score the team’s first and only goal against a Serbian team, though Simion was not unaffected.
“I went to bed that night and thought that Vic hadn’t made it,” he said, “I couldn’t get to sleep.”
At 11 p.m. that same night, Brown’s daughter Jen, reached out to Simion through a personal email.
Jen said: “I wanted to contact you with my and my family’s heartfelt thanks for what you did today to save my dad’s life.”
Members of the Brown family returned to the athletic park field on a few days later, on March 30, in hopes of uncovering details about what happened that day – “which were still a blur” to Brown, at Royal Columbian Hospital.
“His cardiologist at the RCH made it very clear that without you, we would not have him with us today,” Jen said in the email.
Firefighters and paramedics on scene also credited Lorenzo’s quick actions and knowledge with saving Brown’s life.
The heart attack sufferer underwent tests during his hospital stay but was back home and recovering the very next morning.
Brown now has a pacemaker and other preventative blood-flow measures in his chest to help prevent “similar situations from happening,” Jen said.
Another first-aid emergency occurred at the Aldergrove Athletic Park, two years ago after a Sunday churchgoer from inside the Rotary Club Field House collapsed while walking to his car.
“We didn’t have the oxygen or AED to administer at the time,” Simion admitted, not knowing the eventual outcome after the paramedics came on scene, “We did all we could.”
Fortunately, this time Simion was better prepared.
“This is what we train for,” Simion said about his 15 years on the volunteer-based rescue team.
Simion has been deployed internationally to countries including the U.S. for training and responded to landslides in the Kootenays and North Vancouver.
The first responder credited his life-saving actions to players and family members who worked alongside him to ensure Brown had every chance at surviving – Glen Clarke, Dan Kosovic, and others.
“I don’t want to take all the credit, I couldn’t have done what I did without them,” Simion added.
Clarke, another member on the over-50 team who assisted Brown during his distress, wants to see an AED and other safety equipment in the club house.
“We’ve asked for [an AED] before but it seems to be too high of a cost for the municipality,” Clarke said.
Their team, which practices in the early morning hours of Sunday, includes an 84-year-old player with a pacemaker and others with underlying health issues – “emergency equipment is desperately needed here” at the Aldergrove Athletic Park, Clarke insisted.
Simion moved to Canada in 1995, from Romania where he first learned to play soccer.
“People like Lorenzo are of full value to our community and should be acknowledged accordingly,” said his teammate Hunter.