Spectators rally to rescue heart attack victim at Island men’s fastball finals

Rival AOK and Wiky squads unite in prayer

WIKWEMIKONG — Training and quick reactions played a key role in saving the life of a 36-year-old Wikwemikong man who suffered a heart attack while playing for the Island championships with the Wiky Lumberjacks against longtime rivals the AOK Chiefs at Thunderbird Park last Wednesday night.

Following the collapse of Shaun Shawana several people rushed to his aid, including off-duty paramedics and community member Chris Pheasant, providing CPR until a defibrillator could be delivered to the site by the Wikwemikong Tribal Police.

Umpire Delroy Prescott was presiding at the game when the player collapsed. “We had a tough night over here during the AOK at Wiky game two finals, top of the fourth the Jacks left fielder collapsed on the diamond,” he said. “They were doing CPR and all that for 20 minutes until the ambulance finally showed up.”

Mr. Prescott suspended the game, rescheduled to Monday of this week, but the incident had a powerful impact on everyone who was there.

At a moment’s notice everything on the field had changed—all rivalry and competition forgotten. “Everyone knew where the priorities lie,” said Mr. Prescott. “It was powerful to see these two teams of A type competitors all kneeling in a circle at the mound praying and laying down tobacco.”

According to Mr. Shawana’s aunt Theresa Trudeau the ball player made it safely through the night and was sitting up and joking with his family the following morning.

While she was not at the game when the incident occurred, she and her husband Bruce, having stopped in town for a few groceries, wound up arriving at the scene. “We had stopped by Andy’s to pick up some milk and cereal for our morning breakfast and decided to drive through town, like we often do,” she recalled. As they approached Thunderbird Park they could see that there was a game going on, but then a police car drove past them. “They went by us really fast,” she said. The couple followed the cruiser down to the park where a chilling sight greeted them. “We were still on the road but we could see the teams all around in a circle flapping their jerseys.”

Ms. Trudeau spoke to the first individual she saw who told her “Shaun’s collapsed, your nephew Shaun.” The information struck terror into her heart. “He has suffered a heart attack before,” she said. “By the time we got there, they had loaded him into a Yukon.”

Mr. Shawana was conscious as he was being loaded into the Yukon being driven by fellow Wiky Lumberjack and off-duty EMS worker Tim Ominika. Ms. Trudeau recalled the words of off-duty paramedic Teresa Aiabens-Peltier, “’Oh Shaun, I think I broke a rib.’” “’It’s all good’,” quipped Mr. Shawana in reply.

According to Ms. Trudeau, the defibrillator delivered by the police was used to deliver five shocks to Mr. Shawana’s heart, restarting the organ and helping to stabilize him for the trip to the health centre.

The following day popular local MC and teacher Chris Pheasant could be seen nursing his own arm during a teacher’s professional development day. “I was giving CPR,” he said, noting he might have taken too long a shift. “It was a pretty heavy experience,” he admitted. Mr. Pheasant, a strong advocate for organ donation, particularly amongst the aboriginal community, has had a number of close encounters with the spirit path himself, most recently having been the beneficiary of a liver transplant.

Early CPR and defibrillation can make all the difference in survival following a heart attack, noted Ms. Trudeau. She spoke to The Expositor following spending the night at the hospital. “We stayed until we were sure he was alright,” she said.

Ms. Trudeau said that she and her family were extremely grateful to the many people who stepped up to help save her nephew’s life. Despite his previous heart attack, Mr. Shawana, a husband and father of three, maintains an active lifestyle. “He will have to slow down a little bit, I think,” noted Ms. Trudeau.

Mr. Shawana, for his part, said one of his first questions when the doctors have completed their tests will be “can I play sports again.”

He currently is up and about in his hospital gown and feeling better, if more than a little bit sore. “I have five cracked ribs,” he said. “Three on the left side and two on the right. The right side is pretty much healed up now, but the left is still pretty sore.”

The long weekend has delayed finding out what might be causing the issue, but Mr. Shawana said that he understands that he should be able to leave the hospital by the end of the week. “Right now they are monitoring my heart and doing testing,” he said. “But hopefully I can be home soon.”