A hockey player from NS is grateful for the quick-wittedness of his teammates after a heart attack

Mark Pottie is forever grateful to the men who helped save his life after he suffered a heart attack during a pick-up hockey game last month.

The 51-year-old joins a group of men every Sunday night at Centennial Arena in Halifax’s Fairview neighborhood for a game of hockey – a sport he’s been playing since he was four years old.

Pottie remembers that night when he felt no different than any other time he played the sport.

“I guess I was on the ice for about 15-20 minutes and the boys told me I fell, scored a goal, turned around, then I hit the blue line and I collapsed,” he said. “These guys jumped on me and for all intents and purposes saved my life.”

His teammates say at first they thought he might be having a seizure, but as things progressed they realized it was much more serious.

“We called 911, grabbed the AED, removed his upper gear and started chest compressions,” said teammate Ryan Graves.

Graves credits his first aid training and the arena’s two automated external defibrillators with helping save Pottie’s life.

“If your employer offers the possibility of taking first aid and it is paid for, do it. And if not, save a few bucks and do it. Because it could literally save someone’s life. It’s an invaluable thing to do, and I think everyone should have the opportunity to take a first aid course.

Teammate Rob Strangward says it was amazing to see everyone working together.

He says paramedics arrived within 25 minutes.

“We were all pretty nervous about the outcome because it wasn’t certain at all,” Strangward said. “But he’s much better now, and thank God.”

As for Pottie, he says his doctors cleared him to play again, but just to be sure, he says he’ll wait another month before lacing his skates.

He says it’s hard to put into words how grateful he is for the vital help he’s received from his teammates.

“I can’t say enough about these guys. Myself, my family, seemingly everyone I know is 150% behind these guys, nothing but respect, they are brothers for life. I love them.”

Catherine J. Martinez