A trio of nurses jump in to help Shrine Bowl referee

Three nurses from Bismarck responded Saturday after a referee collapsed on field
Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 11:09 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Saturday was a beautiful day for football and hundreds filled the stands at West Fargo Sheyenne for the annual Shrine Bowl.

The two-game event kicked off with the 11-man East All-Stars and West All-Stars. It was a back and forth game with the score tied right before halftime when everything came to a sudden stop.

“Can we please get medical help to the field immediately?” Fans heard over the loudspeaker.

“Can we please get medical help to the field immediately?” They repeated.

Then you heard, “911!” being yelled from the field.

Calls to 911 flooded the system. Those on the field reached for an AED, while more help rushed to the field.

“All I could think of was getting to this man and doing whatever I could to help save him because he wasn’t getting back up,” St. Alexius nurse Brittney Koch said moments after the emergency.

On a standard snap, the play went to the left and as the white hat whistled the play down, he saw his comrade to his right, in trouble. He immediately rushed to his aid and set off the emergency response.

“I immediately checked for a pulse and started CPR,” Andrea Jackson, a Sanford nurse in Bismarck recalled. “There were a couple of other nurses with me and we just did what we needed to do and I think it was just more of a reaction at this point.”

They connected the AED and issued a single shock, followed by more chest compressions.

“Critical thinking skills just jump into action,” said fellow Sanford nurse and Bismarck resident Shannon Malard. “It doesn’t matter where you are, whose around you, you just do what you have to do and you just start with your basic ABC’s.”

As the team of nurses jumped into action, working seamlessly together, the stands, waiting in breathless anticipation, finally saw movement. Letting out a loud cheer.

“I only had to do compressions for maybe 45 seconds before he came around,” Koch recalled. “Just the pure look on his face, and looking up at his wife’s face and seeing her relief that her husband is back now, is just. Everything I’ve ever done is worth it, at that point. Even for that one patient. If he’s the only person I’ve ever saved, it’s worth it.”

Koch, an emergency room nurse, lives in Beulah and was at the game to support her husband who was coaching. Her mother had stuck around for the weekend before flying back to California and so was able to watch Koch’s children, so she could jump the fence and race on the field to help assist in the emergency.

Jackson has been a nurse for more than 20 years and was one of the first to reach the gentleman on the field. Saying the moment she heard them call for medical assistance, she instantly rushed the stands.

Malard was sitting on the 50-yard line with a large group of friends and family, supporting her son in his final high school football game. She’s been a nurse for more than 28 years, working from the emergency room to now recovery. She said there wasn’t a moment of hesitation in hitting the field.

“God puts us in places to help out and all of us stood up and we knew this is kind of why we are nurses,” Jackson explained.

The gentleman left the field in the care of first responders, awake and alert. He stood before they had him sit to leave the field.

He joined the fans in another round of applause, as the grandstand let out a collective sigh of relief and gratitude for those willing and able to help any of us in our greatest time of need.

The three nurses, headed back to the stands to find their families but not before a hug or two was shared. These three nurses that work in Bismarck had never met each other, but they were brought together on this Saturday evening for a reason. Each expressing gratitude for the assistance they each provided.

They pointed out how important it is to be CPR certified, adding how crucial it is to also offer to help. Explaining how tiring CPR is, and the difference a fresh set of compressions can make in saving someone’s life.

Shrine Bowl officials told Valley News Live Saturday night, the referee was ‘stable and well’ at the hospital and would spend the night for evaluation.

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