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Defibrillator saves referee’s life at Decatur basketball game

Edward and Jane Kazinsky are grateful for all those who came to his aid at Decatur High School in December, when Edward experienced sudden cardiac arrest. - Courtesy photo
Edward and Jane Kazinsky are grateful for all those who came to his aid at Decatur High School in December, when Edward experienced sudden cardiac arrest.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Edward Kazinsky, 69, doesn’t remember anything about Dec. 16, 2011. Those who saved his life will never forget.

The gym at Decatur High School was a flurry of activity as a boys basketball game against Foss was about to begin. Kazinsky, in his black and white referee stripes, was preparing to officiate the game.

Just before the tip-off, Kazinsky collapsed on the court from sudden cardiac arrest. He was unconscious and not breathing. Immediately, a handful of good Samaritans sprang into action. Decatur staff members Heather White, Sherilyn Olson, Nami Headland and Sian Fankhauser, along with parent Bobbie McLain and a bus driver from Foss, rushed to Kazinsky’s side.

An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) was located and used, while McLain and Fankhauser began CPR. They continued to work on Kazinsky for what felt like 20 minutes until paramedics arrived at the scene. Paramedics were able to restore Kazinsky’s breathing and transported him to the hospital. South King Fire and Rescue reports that they arrived at the scene nearly seven minutes after the 911 call.

Now, nearly four months later, Kazinsky is on the road to recovery. He tires a little more easily. And he’s a little forgetful sometimes. But he feels better every day. He’s been working outside on his property and playing cribbage. He’s hoping his doctor will clear him to officiate basketball again next fall.

Kazinsky is grateful for all those who came to his aid at Decatur that day. “I thank them for my life,” he said. “They say I’m a miracle to be alive.”

“The true heroes in my opinion are the people who administered CPR on my husband,” Jane Kazinsky said. “They kept him alive until medical services arrived. Our family is so grateful for everything they did to help. He is alive today because of them. Words cannot express how grateful we are to everyone who helped Ed during this crisis. Thank you to all.”

The Kazinsky’s can also thank the Federal Way school district for having AEDs in every building.

In 2007, a group of doctors, community members and school staff formed the Heart of Federal Way Schools organization and raised more than $60,000 to purchase AEDs for all Federal Way schools. The AEDs are in central locations on each campus, and include step-by-step instructions so they can be used by anyone.

AEDs substantially improve survival rates in victims of sudden cardiac arrest, which is responsible for half of all heart-related deaths. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating. Nearly 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims do not survive. Most of these deaths occur with little or no warning. Chances of survival are greatly improved when an AED is used within three to four minutes.

AEDs in Federal Way schools improve students’ odds of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, and will be there for anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest on campus. Some estimates indicate that 20 percent of the U.S. population — staff, parents, vendors, and more — set foot on a school campus every day.

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