Long Island athletic trainers bring referee back to life after game collapse

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Ref who collapsed on field brought back to life by athletic trainers
Kristin Thorne reports on the lifesaving actions from the school's staff on Long Island.

FARMINGDALE, Long Island (WABC) -- Two high school athletic trainers on Long Island are being credited with saving the life of a referee who collapsed on the field during a varsity football game on Saturday.

Phil LoNigro was officiating a game between East Meadow High School and Farmingdale High School when he suddenly collapsed on the field at Farmingdale High School.

"I started getting a little dizzy, then, all of a sudden things started going black and I just passed out," LoNigro said.

East Meadow High School athletic trainer Dan DeSimone ran to LoNigro, while Farmingdale trainer Phil Fandale jumped into a golf cart, which carried an AED, and drove to LoNigro on the field.

"He still was breathing. He still had a pulse. As we turned him over. His pulse went," Fandale said.

DeSimone started chest compressions, while Fandale readied the AED.

"The AED shocked him. I started doing chests compressions again. The AED analyzed it again and found a pulse," DeSimone said.

LoNigro was transported to the hospital.

"Thank God Phil and Dan were there. They knew exactly what to do," LoNigro said on Monday from his hospital bed.

"It was a phenomenal team effort," Fandale said. "Everybody had a job to do, everybody did it. There was no panic."

"It went as good as we wanted it to," DeSimone said.

LoNigro said doctors are still trying to figure out what caused him to collapse, but said his potassium levels were low when he arrived at the hospital.

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