Referee saved after suffering heart attack during high school lacrosse game in Rockland County

ORANGEBURG, Rockland County (WABC) -- A dramatic rescue took place after a referee collapsed in the middle of a lacrosse game at a high school in Rockland County.

Jessica Lappe is the athletic trainer at Tappan Zee High School. For half the year, Matt Irizzary and Christian Florencia, both athletes themselves, are her interns.

"I want to empower them to be able to handle what life throws their way," Lappe said.

Last Tuesday, during a lacrosse game, Irizzary and Florencia learned firsthand the meaning of life and death emergency.

A referee had collapsed on the field. FDNY member Jimmy Sanchez was there watching his boys play, when he saw the referee go down.

ALSO READ | NYPD introduces emotional support dogs to help officers cope with stress of job
EMBED More News Videos

On Wednesday, the NYPD introduced K9s Jenny and Piper, two emotional support dogs trained to help officers cope with the stresses of the job. Eyewitness News Reporter Brittany Bell has more.



"I kinda like sprinted over to the field ... I noticed immediately he was labored breathing, immediately after that I said we need equipment. Before I knew it I had three people around me," Sanchez said.

Those three were Lappe, Irizzary and Florencia.

"I knew right away when it was a ref and he wasn't moving that we were going to need the AED for sure, that's why I turned on my heels right away and told my boys to grab it," Lappe said.

The AED machine was just yards away. It was a vital tool to shock the referee's heart.

Irizzary and Florencia had been interns for just two days. Talk about a trial by fire.

"i just went in, I barely remember handing it off to Jimmy, it's what jess prepared us to do," Florencia said.

ALSO READ | Massive fire rages at PepsiCo factory in New Jersey

EMBED More News Videos

A massive fire raging at a PepsiCo factory in Piscataway, New Jersey Tuesday night injured two firefighters. Josh Einiger has the breaking details.



"Being in a situation that you would never imagine yourself to be in is life changing and really prepares you, and says to you you're ready for any moment that life throws at you," Irizzary said.

Teamwork, training and teaching led to a good save.

The referee was rushed to the hospital. He is a survivor thanks to the FDNY and an athletic trainer with a passion to help and to teach.


----------
* More Northern Suburbs news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.