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Right Place, Right Time:

Quick thinking saves a life

Friends give collapsed teammate CPR on basketball court to sustain his pulse until paramedics arrive.

July 09, 2009|By Joseph Serna

The guys thought they’d brought Dave back from the brink. They’d breathe for him and pump his chest and get a pulse, his head would lift and he’d snore, but the moment they stopped, so did Dave.

“We were just oxygenating his brain enough to drive his brain to breathe,” Covey said.

Both knew CPR is only a temporary fix. The gym did not have a portable Automatic External Defibrillator, which can measure a person’s heart beat and give them the necessary shock. The men had to perform CPR for about four minutes, they said, before Newport Beach paramedics arrived with their defibrillator.

When paramedics arrived, they immediately gave Dave a shock, and that was all he needed. By the time Dave got to Hoag hospital, he was conscious and talking to paramedics.


“I have never seen anybody come back and be talking after CPR,” Byrne said “I’ve heard about it, but I’ve never seen anybody come back [that fast] like that.”

“It just went...everything was just lucky,” Covey said. “The right people were in the right places. The refs were on the phones, the medics got there timely, it was the whole system. It worked.”

“By them starting CPR right away, they definitely saved him. If they weren’t there, possibly the outcome could have been different,” said Chad Ponegalek, a Newport Beach fire captain.

Dave is still in the hospital and his friend says he is fine. After a full day of rest, he looks as good as new, Byrne said. Covey said had it been a week later, when neither he nor Byrne were planning on being at the game, this story could have a tragic ending.

“It just doesn’t get any better. I’m honored to have been able to be there for a friend in their utmost moment of need. It’s one of the most fulfilling moments of my life,” Covey said.

Doctors are still trying to determine what caused Dave to go into cardiac arrest.

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