ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – There was a heartfelt reunion Friday afternoon between a pickleball player and the people who saved his life.
Stan Stankovich had the chance to thank the other pickleball players, lifeguards and first responders who sprang into action during his medical emergency.
“I see friends, I see some pickleball competitors, I see family,” Stankovich said, “but most importantly I see heroes.”
During a game of pickleball two weeks ago at St. Pete’s Walter Fuller park, Stankovich’s heart stopped beating.
“I remember playing the point then feeling I was gonna fall backwards,” he said.
He suddenly collapsed on the court. Pickleball player Nathan Stein immediately started performing chest compressions.
Other bystanders called 911 and ran to the lifeguards at the nearby pool.
“Honestly didn’t really have much to think about in the moment,” lifeguard Ozzy Figueroa said. “It was more a fight or flight reaction.”
Relying on his training, what Figueroa did next saved Stankovich’s life.
“He grabbed his AED device,” Stankovich said. “He sprinted over. He followed his training, exactly. He controlled the situation, backed off the pickleball players hooked me up to the device.”
After two shocks from the Automated External Defibrillator, Stankovich’s heart started beating again and he regained consciousness.
“Those things work,” he said. “They save lives and so does the CPR training.”
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue arrived on scene to continue treating Stankovich before Sunstar Ambulance took him to the hospital for additional cardiac care.
“Far too often we come to these kind of calls where we don’t have this kind of outcome and the lifeguards are really the heroes of this event,” St. Pete Fire Rescue Captain Steve Santana said.
Stanokich’s wife Laura can’t thank those heroes enough.
“It was just such a blessing to know that there’s people that will take the initiative and save his life because he wouldn’t be here speaking to us,” she said.