John Carroll University Sports Medicine staff saves referee’s life after heart attack

Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 12:13 AM EST
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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - A Northeast Ohio native was refereeing a women’s basketball game at John Carroll University when he suffered a heart attack just before the second half.

He had no pulse, but thanks to the JCU Sports Medicine staff’s quick efforts, this referee is alive today.

In the game of basketball, seconds count... and for 66-year-old Tim Radley, seconds made all the difference in the game of life.

The referee of nearly 40 years collapsed from a heart attack just as halftime was ending when the Blue Streaks took on Baldwin Wallace in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center on Jan. 19.

“I was fine before the game, and when I started running, I had a little pressure in the chest... little pressure... and then I would belch - thought it was gas and it would go away,” Radley described.

Little did he know that he would collapse after exiting the locker room to prepare for the third quarter, right next to the John Carroll Sports Medicine staff.

A hush came over the center as players and attendees could do nothing but watch and pray as Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Senior Athletic Trainer Michelle Fowler, AT, ATC, and fellow Dr. Breanna Kebort sprang into action.

“We realized that he had collapsed and he did not have a pulse,” Fowler explained.

That’s when Fowler’s training as a CPR instructor and Kebort’s emergency-room experience kicked in.

“Dr. Kebort administered one set of chest compressions, the AED shocked him once, and I believe she got another set of chest compressions in,” Fowler described.

The CPR and automated external defibrillator got Radley breathing again as he regained consciousness.

Justin  McMonagle and Andrew Mindeck are also credited with helping bring Radley back to life.

“When I came to, the EMTs were here, and I remember a gentleman saying, ‘Tim! Tim!” Radley recalled. “It was the EMTs and I opened my eyes and he said, ‘There he is, there he is!’ He said, ‘Tim, welcome back!”

The EMT was not the only one who experienced the exciting rush of relief...

As the referee was put on a stretcher and headed for the ambulance, applause erupted from the stands.

Radley joked of the rarity of the situation, “cause you know referees, we don’t get much applause!”

Throughout his four decades as a referee, Radley had never seen or heard of a story like his.

He plans to use this second chance at life to encourage fellow referees to check their heart health, check up with their doctors regularly, and don’t ignore the potential signs of cardiac arrest.

Radley also believes more AED machines should be available, and feels blessed he was within arms reach in his moment of need.

He realizes he scored big that day and it’s far from game over because the Mentor man has a second shot at the life he loves as a referee, husband, father, and grandfather.

“My wife and I just went to see Jesus Christ Superstar on Sunday, and we were sitting waiting for it to start... and there’s that huge curtain at Playhouse Square. There’s two huge angels on there, so we had the people sitting behind us take our picture as well as the angels, and I sent it to them and told them, ‘there’s my two angels up there because they saved my life,” Radley stated.

You can bet on seeing Radley don his stripes again because this referee plans to be back in the game once his doctor gives him the go-ahead.

John Carroll University Sports Medicine staff saves referee’s life after heart attack
John Carroll University Sports Medicine staff saves referee’s life after heart attack(John Carroll University)

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