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Westwood police bring stricken lacrosse ref back to life

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: It took four shocks, but a team of Westwood police heroes brought a girls’ lacrosse referee back to life after he collapsed on the field from an apparent heart attack Tuesday night at Westvale Park.

It was around 6:30 when Officers Dean McCarroll and Pete Casells and Sgt. Robert Held converged on the field, where youth baseball, softball and lacrosse league games were being played, witnesses told CLIFFVIEW PILOT Tuesday night.

“There were a lot of kids all around — first-, second-graders, middle schoolers,” said Oradell Police Officer Marc Fedorchak, who was at one of the games.

“The middle school [lacrosse players] were in the middle of warmups when he went down,” Fedorchak told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “People came running over to our game, asking for help.”

A nurse began CPR, with assistance from Fedorchak, who also asked onlookers to keep back.

Dozens of people pointed the arriving Westwood officers toward the 57-year-old referee as he lay on the northern end of the field.

McCarroll got the defibrillator paddles from his radio car, shaved the man’s chest and attached them, witnesses told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . The officers also fitted the victim with an oxygen mask, they said.

The officers continued CPR after the first shock, with no success, they said. The ref’s wife stood nearby, terrified.

After a second shock, he began to breathe slightly. But witnesses said his pulse quickly faded.

The officers shouted his name, trying to roust him, they said, but a third shock brought the same response.

So they feverishly continued CPR, as dozens of adults and children remained still.

“The kids were really young and didn’t need to see that,” a witness told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “The adults were trying to shield them from what was going on.”

The officers then shocked the fallen man a fourth time — and he finally came to.

“Stay with me. You’re doing great,” McCarroll said.

“Squeeze my hand,” Cassells added — and the man did.

“He was breathing. He obviously had a strong pulse,” one witness said. “He was looking around.”

The official apparently suffered a heart attack, according to the nurse and another witness, who identified himself as a doctor.

The ref was placed onto a backboard when the ambulance arrived. He immediately began vomiting — a good sign, as any rescuer knows.

By that point, arrangements had been made to shut down a path from the field through several towns to Hackensack University Medical Center for a high-speed emergency transport. But a Westwood desk sergeant came on the air to say that wasn’t necessary.

“He was awake, conscious, breathing on his own,” a witness told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “He looked like he was going to be fine.”

“The Westwood officers did a great job,” Fedorchak said this morning. “I’m  just glad he’s OK.”

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