Nurse Saves Friend Who Collapsed Playing Hockey | Loyola Medicine
Monday, March 2, 2015

Loyola nurse saves friend who collapsed on ice while playing hockey

Young dad has second chance at life thanks to friend

MAYWOOD, Ill. (Feb. 26, 2015) – Just before the holidays, Kirke Cushing, 43, made his weekly visit to the local ice hockey rink to play a game with a group of friends. Mr. Cushing’s son Jackson looked on from the stands. 

During the game, Mr. Cushing began feeling pain in his left arm. He shrugged it off and continued skating. With six minutes left in the third period, he began feeling dizzy and collapsed on the ice. 

"I turned around and saw Kirke lying down on the ice. I skated over to him and found him unconscious," said Andy Soltys, RN, Mr. Cushing’s friend and teammate.

Soltys, who also happens to be an emergency department nurse at Loyola University Medical Center, jumped into action and immediately began CPR. Mr. Cushing's son called 911 and his mom Meg who ran over to the rink with the couple’s daughter. Others brought an automated external defibrillator (AED) to assist until the paramedics arrived. The ambulance reached the rink minutes later and rushed Mr. Cushing to the closest hospital. 

Mr. Cushing remembers waking up two days later.

"When I came to, I was restrained and unable to speak from the tube down my throat," Mr. Cushing said. "I didn’t know where I was or what had happened. It was terrifying." 

Doctors determined that he had suffered a heart attack on the ice. They performed two angiograms to remove blockages and inserted four stents to open up his clogged arteries. He returned home less than a week later and began cardiac rehab while receiving follow-up care from Amir Darki, MD, a Loyola cardiologist. 

Less than two months later, Mr. Cushing is 25 pounds lighter and living a much healthier lifestyle.

"Before my heart attack, I hadn’t been to the doctor in three years," he said. "Today, my family and I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables and take better care of ourselves. I feel much better, and I have a second chance at life that I don’t want to waste." 

Doctors told Mr. Cushing that he has Andy and his paramedics to thank for saving his life and preventing any long-term impairments. 

"They said had CPR not been administered well and right away, I might not be here today," Mr. Cushing said. "I was fortunate to be playing hockey with a friend who also happens to be an emergency department nurse." 

Mr. Cushing received clearance to return to the ice and recently began playing hockey again. He plans to return to his team soon.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.