As Freddie Waine of Washington walked toward Consol Energy Center Friday for the Penguins game, he suddenly found himself thrust from the role of casual fan into that of a lifesaver.
“My son and I were walking towards the Trib gate when a guy in front of me suddenly collapsed into his wife’s arms,” Waine said.
Waine was taking his 6-year-old son, Aiden, to his first professional hockey game. What started as a casual night at the rink quickly escalated into a life-or-death scenario.
Off-duty Pittsburgh police Officer Forrest Hodges was already on the scene and Waine, who had six years experience serving as an Army combat medic, immediately asked if he could help.
“He didn’t have any vitals,” Waine said. “He started to change colors, no longer had a pulse and wasn’t breathing.”
David Allen, 66, of Beaver, was unresponsive as Officer Hodges started performing chest compressions while Waine gave breaths with a mask and kept his airway open.
The two men yelled they needed a defibrillator and a bellhop from the nearby Marriot City Center ran across the street with the hotel’s machine. The men administered to electric shocks in hopes of restarting Allen’s heart.
“After the second shock, he came up coughing,” Waine said. Paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and transported Allen to UPMC Mercy where he was listed as in fair condition.
Waine, 29, said it took a group effort to save a life.
“It was amazing to see how everyone came together,” Waine said. “We had a pickup basketball team of responders there and everybody did their job.”
Even little Aiden played his part.
“He hung out with the man’s wife and talked to her,” Waine said. “She kept his back turned and he kept her mind off what was happening, so it was a good combo.”
Waine said his son didn’t seem upset by the episode – he was likely too young to fully comprehend how serious the situation was. But he may have gained some insight into what his father leaved in the military.
“As we started walking, he was looking at me and said, ‘I didn’t know you knew how to do that,’” Waine said. “I told him, ‘That’s what daddy did in the Army.’”
The lifesaving detour didn’t stop the pair from making it to the game on time.
“It was a real good game and he was so pumped,” Waine said of the 3-1 Penguins win against the Florida Panthers. “He got to see Sid and Letang and Geno and James all come out and he pointed out his favorite players. He had a blast.”
Waine, who was discharged in 2010, is currently a corrections officer and is studying towards a doctorate degree in psychology. He said he hopes to work with other soldiers, possibly doing post-traumatic stress disorder counseling.