By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – The exercise routine of Hudson resident Brian Martin, age 59, includes cardio, weight lifting, and an hour playing pick-up hockey Sunday mornings with longtime friends at Valley Sports Arena in Concord. There, he suffered sudden cardiac arrest the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. He’s thankful that the facility is equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED). His hockey buddies quickly used the AED to save his life.
“We skated real hard that day and I was feeling great,” Martin recalled. “Afterward, I was sitting in the locker room and just fell over. The guys thought I was joking around, but I wasn’t. They responded so quickly. There were about 20 guys and all were involved somehow. It was a team effort.”
While 911 was called, several of the hockey players laid Martin on the locker room floor. Others ran to the opposite end of the rink and grabbed an AED. They followed the defibrillator’s verbal instructions.
“Someone pressed the shock button and I did not come back from the first shock,” Martin relayed. “Brian Rodgers did mouth to mouth while another fellow did chest compressions on me.”
The AED instructed them to give a second shock, which successfully revived Martin’s pulse.
“Speed is everything,” Martin noted. “I asked them how much time went by and they said probably three minutes. No one had any experience using an AED. Afterward, I checked a YouTube video that demonstrates how simple it is to use. That’s why I’m an advocate for this. Every public building and school should have an AED.”
When the ambulance arrived, Martin was transported to Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington. Although other hospitals are closer, Lahey was chosen because of its Landsman Heart and Vascular Center. Surgery was performed and a stent inserted by cardiologist Dr. Christopher Pyne. Martin met and spoke with his surgeon a couple hours after the life-threatening incident.
“I thanked the doctor for saving my life with the stent, and he said, ‘Don’t thank me; thank your hockey player friends because they did it all.’”
Martin went for two weeks of cardiac rehabilitation at Marlborough Hospital.
“They did a nuclear stress test on me and said there was no damage to my heart,” he noted. “It was such a good outcome that I could go back to working out on my own.”
In addition to returning to his exercise routine, Martin improved his diet to be more heart healthy.
“My weight does go up and down,” he acknowledged. “Even though I’d been exercising it off, this time it caught up with me.”
Martin now visits cardiologist Dr. Daniel Carlucci, chair of medical specialties at Reliant Medical Group. He practices at its Southborough and Worcester offices. Two months after the incident, Carlucci offered him good news. Martin could start playing hockey again as of Jan. 24.
“I was a little nervous at first, but the guys were great,” he said. “They were all glad to see me back, shaking my hand and back-slapping me.”
He’s also following up with his primary care physician Dr. Anupam Mathur of Hudson. Martin credits his quick recovery to the support of his hockey buddies, as well as his wife Jean, and sons Peter and Tom.
The lifesaving incident was covered on Fox WFXT-TV by reporter Blair Miller. He interviewed Lt. Bill Whalen of the Concord Fire Department, one of the first responders on the scene.
“You only have seconds, not minutes, to avoid brain damage,” Whalen said. “Our hope is that all public places have defibrillators and proper CPR training. It makes a huge difference.”