Hockey goalie makes save of his life

Teammates advocate CPR and AED training for all

MAITLAND, Fla. – A hockey goalie took life-saving action when one of his teammates suffered a heart attack on the ice.

"I thought it was a fight," Richard Nitz told News 6 Anchor Kirstin O'Connor as he remembered the moment his men's league scheduled hockey game became a fight for survival.

"And then somebody yelled,"We need a doctor. Who knows CPR, who knows CPR?'" Nitz said,  demonstrating the distance he was from his teammate in distress.

Without hesitation, in full goalie gear, Nitz pulled his gloves and mask off and bolted across the ice.

"So when I got over here, what Scottie had been doing, he was one of the green jerseys, Scottie had been controlling his fall, and Bill fell in such a way his shoulders were blocking the door, his head was right here, and Scottie was just starting to check for a pulse," Nitz said.

As it turned out,  Nitz is a retired volunteer firefighter of 18 years and Scott Demner, "Scottie," was a cardiac therapist. The two rivals on the ice, began round after round of CPR while another teammate called 911. 

Nitz said his experience gave him the ability to stay calm, but admitted all the pieces came together at the right time.

"I mean, I've done CPR in a compromised car upside down before, so being behind a bench in goalie equipment was nothing. It wasn't a hindrance at all. We just did what needed to be done," Nitz said. "It just so happened, I had to make adjustments on my pads, so I had my shears with me that night." 

Nitz used the shears to remove his teammate's gear and shortly after the RDV Ice Den rink manager arrived with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

"So it advised a shock, we stood clear, it shocked, checked for vitals again no pulse, no respirations. At this point he was in full arrest, cyanosis was setting in. He was turning blue, his eyes were bulging, he was gone,"  Nitz said.

In his firefighting experience, Nitz said he had only seen about four in a hundred people come back from a situation this grim. 

"I knew that we were in trouble,"  Nitz said, but he wasn't ready to give up on his teammate.

Nitz asked the other men to help pull their friend to a better position, away from the door to the ice, and opened the door.

"And about 40 seconds to a minute later I noticed respirations. Scottie stopped compressions, checked for pulse, he had a pulse he actually even started to begin talking, asking what happened,"  Nitz said.

Emergency Medical Services arrived and took over, while Nitz and his teammates took a step back. Not long after, his teammate and family returned to the rink to thank Nitz and Demner for what they called, Nitz's greatest save they’ll ever be a part of.

"It was just one of the most emotionally charged moments that I've ever experienced," Nitz said. "We might not agree with each other, but if we respect each other, life's better together. We can make Orlando that much better."

Now the community has the opportunity to participate in his mission to make Orlando even stronger.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, at 12:30 p.m. News 6 will attempt to break the World Record with the Largest CPR Training Session at Camping World Stadium. Click here to read more about that event.

"The thing is you don't have to be a firefighter or anyone special. Anybody can learn it, everybody can do it," Nitz said.

About the Author: