Suburban Heroes: Off-duty Elgin firefighter saves a life during hockey game
Alan Butt has no memory of collapsing on the ice during a recreational hockey league game. All he knows is what he was told when he woke up in the emergency room: His heart stopped and an off-duty Elgin firefighter on the opposing team saved his life.
"I'm extremely lucky to be alive," said Butt, 60, of Cary. "Adam (Subleski, the firefighter) and the team had to move very quickly, because my clock was ticking."
Butt has recovered so well that he plans to be back on the ice soon, just 2½ months after having open heart surgery to treat blocked arteries. "I feel like I was given a get-out-of-jail-free card."
Butt and Subleski, 31, of Wonder Lake, were playing Dec. 15 at Crystal Ice House in Crystal Lake when Butt suddenly slumped face down on the ice. Subleski said his training kicked in immediately.
He skated over and, with the assistance of others, rolled Butt over, removed his goalie pads and started CPR. A member of Butt's team grabbed an automated external defibrillator, which Subleski used to help revive the man while continuing CPR until the paramedics arrived.
Butt, who's since lost 20 pounds and lowered his cholesterol, said he's incredibly grateful to Subleski and everyone else who helped. He recently presented Subleski with an Elgin Fire Department merit award. The two previously met in January, when Butt went to the ice rink as soon as he could drive in order to meet and thank Subleski in person.
Without the AED, Butt wouldn't be alive today, Subleski said.
"Anybody could have hooked up the AED to him," he said. "I was able to do it at little bit faster, a little bit better, maybe."