A Roseville man certainly has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving -- he's alive today thanks to the quick thinking of family and friends who brought him back after he suffered a heart attack on an ice rink.
Scott Rodriguez and his buddies are all in their 50s, and they've been playing hockey together for more than 30 years. On Tuesday night, they were together at the Richfield City Hall to be awarded for doing the right thing when the unthinkable occurred.
"One of the guys was my best man in my wedding," Rodriguez said. "Three of us go back to junior high; two of us go back to high school."
Even after spending a small amount of time with the group, it's obvious that they've known each other a long time. Yet, they're more than friends from high school and fellow hockey players, they're in a life-saving league.
"Can't say enough words -- how do you thank someone like that? That's been my attitude," Rodriguez said. "I was dead -- cardiac arrest."
In September, Rodriguez was on the ice at the Richfield arena when everything suddenly went black. One of his teammates started CPR started right away while another performed mouth-to-mouth after Rodriguez stopped breathing.
"To be honest, it was kind of instinctive," Robert Gilbert said. "I've seen it done before when a guy went down at the rink. I watched it be done, so I was hoping I was doing it right."
Next, two rink employees grabbed a portable defibrillator from the wall, and another player shocked Rodriguez's heart back into a normal rhythm even though he'd only learned how to use the AED a week before.
That quick-thinking and action earned Rodriguez's friends and the rink employees two life-saving awards from the Richfield Fire Department and the American Heart Association.
"If it wasn't for them and the entire team, from the citizens all the way through the hospital, this outcome might have been tragic rather than happy," Richfield Fire Chief Wayne Kewitsch said.
According to Kewitsch, Rodriguez's story highlights the importance of learning hands-on CPR, which can be explained in minutes and, clearly, can help save a life.
Playing hockey over the years helped them all learn the value of teamwork, and Rodriguez said his grateful his friends were there for him in the clutch.
"It shows what kind of friends I have," he said.
Rodriguez plans to go back to work at the Post Office next week, and he should be well enough to return to the ice by next spring when his league resumes.