As a former collegiate player and now a longtime men’s lacrosse referee, Jim Loffredo, 50, knows what it feels like to be “in the zone.”
It’s a unique and often rare feeling of being singularly focused on just one task. All distractions and background noise seem to disappear as you develop a laser sharp connection to just one function.
That’s the condition that Loffredo reached last Thursday afternoon during the game he was officiating in the Men’s 65+ Division of the Lake Placid Summit Classic. Unfortunately, it wasn’t due to the action on the field, but rather the inaction.
Running up field while he followed the ball, Loffredo heard players yelling for help at the other end of the field. He looked back and saw a player on the Ultra Legends team lying on the ground. Loffredo stopped play and immediately ran back to the scene.
“As I arrived, another player was already doing chest compressions on the fallen player,” Loffredo said. “Since I have had CPR training, I relieved him and continued doing the compressions. Another player, who I believe was an anesthesiologist, was around the goalie’s head and trying to clear his airway. There was a third person who was checking for his pulse.”
It was at this point, as Loffredo continued the chest compressions, when his focus dramatically narrowed.
“I think adrenaline just took over,” Loffredo said. “My vision shrank down to just a small circle, and I was simply focused on what I was doing. I’m really not sure what else was happening around us.”
Within a minute, two doctors who were at the game and two athletic trainers that were working the event arrived on the scene. The athletic trainers had an AED and utilized it on the fallen player, restoring his pulse. He had regained consciousness by the time the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) were on the scene and preparing him for transport to the local hospital.
“I just crashed once the trainers got the AED on him,” Loffredo said. “I was wiped out and exhausted.”
The good news is that Loffredo’s CPR and the on-site AED saved the player, Peter Tracy of Lutherville, Md., who spent one night at the hospital and was discharged the following day.
“All I remember was feeling lightheaded before I went down,” Tracy, 70, said. “When I woke up, there were about 10 people kneeling around me with concerned looks, so I knew that something had happened to me.”
Now back home, Tracy, who had open heart surgery 13 years ago, is undergoing more testing with his cardiologist to determine what may have caused the cardiac incident, which was not commotio cordis. He’s hoping to get clearance to resume his active lacrosse lifestyle, which includes Sunday pick-up games and tournament participation at Vail and in Florida, in addition to his annual trip to Upstate New York.
“I want to keep on going,” said Tracy, who has been playing in the senior divisions at Lake Placid for 20 years.
Loffredo, who undergoes CPR training every few years as a requirement for his position as a fourth-grade teacher, remained in Lake Placid through the weekend and worked the rest of his assigned schedule of games. He only began processing the events once he returned home to Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday evening.
“I continued to officiate my games in order to keep my mind occupied,” said Loffredo, a regular attendee as both a player and official at Lake Placid over the past 15 years. “A lot of people were thanking me over the next few days. There was quite an outpouring, but I really didn’t want to talk about it or think about it while we were still at Lake Placid.”
Having now decompressed, Loffredo reflects more deeply on all that transpired.
“We were fortunate that the folks in Lake Placid had a great system in place with athletic trainers and AEDs,” he said. “I was just the bridge until help arrived.”
Loffredo is also thankful for the ongoing CPR training that he has had over the course of his 27 years as a schoolteacher. The training was critical in allowing him to confidently jump into action when needed.
“I’ve never even come close to doing this before, but if you are going to be around sports, CPR training makes sense,” he said. “You never know when you’ll be needed.”
As a long-time advocate for CPR training for coaches and program leaders, and for the presence of AEDs at all lacrosse practices and games, USA Lacrosse has partnerships with the American Heart Association and with Stryker to provide valuable cardiac safety resources to members.
To show his appreciation for the work of the athletic trainers at the Lake Placid Summit Classic, Tracy and the other members of his Ultra Legends squad are collecting funds to make a donation of AEDs and other needed medical supplies to the event.
Tracy has also pledged to take CPR training so that if he ever finds himself in a similar situation, he may be able to help another person.
“I don’t think we’re ever too old to learn CPR, so it’s something I am going to do,” he said.
Learn more about CPR training and purchasing discounted AEDs by clicking here.