Phil Hanson's Story
“When I had my heart attack, help came quickly and I am very appreciative and very lucky.” - Phil Hanson
A seventh-grade basketball game in January 2018 ended suddenly when referee Phil Hanson collapsed. His heart stopped beating, and he needed immediate treatment to survive. With critical, emergency support from trained bystanders, an AED machine, Ridgeview Ambulance and a stent, Phil received swift, lifesaving care that led to a full recovery.
Phil had been refereeing basketball for more than 40 years when he walked into the crowded Watertown-Mayer Middle School gym that night. His wife commented earlier in the day that he didn’t look so good, but Phil felt fine as game one—of two—tipped off.
At halftime, Phil was unusually tired and overheated. “I felt funny,” Phil recalled. “It was hot in the gym, and I told myself I was going to have to take it easy.” It wasn’t the typical chest pain or pressure that preceded Phil’s heart attack. Instead, he described his symptoms as flu-like.
“After the first game, I didn’t feel well,” Phil remembered. “I felt like I had the flu and decided I was done running up and down. I was going to get in position and just get through the second game.”
Around the two-minute mark of game two, Phil collapsed. Several bystanders jumped into action by calling 911, starting chest compressions, retrieving the AED machine and clearing the gym. A Ridgeview ambulance arrived within minutes and took Phil straight to the hospital.
Doctors discovered a total blockage of the most important artery in the front of Phil’s heart. Phil had experienced a “widowmaker” heart attack. Doctors placed a stent in his artery to clear the blockage. Phil also received care for a brain bleed, concussion and broken cheek bone caused by his fall.
After three days in the hospital, Phil went home to begin his recovery, which included cardiac and concussion rehabilitation at Ridgeview. Within two months, he was enjoying his favorite spring pastime, coaching baseball.
As an active man without a significant family history of heart disease, Phil’s heart attack was surprising. He is grateful for the Good Samaritans at the game and the fast response of the Ridgeview team.
“When I had my heart attack, help came quickly and I am very appreciative and very lucky,” Phil said. “Ridgeview is a tremendous resource in this community, and I’ve been a beneficiary in multiple ways since the midseventies.”
Ridgeview Ambulance started with one red Cadillac ambulance and a team of eight emergency professionals in 1977. Now, the ambulance service covers 950 square miles including all of Carver County, and portions of Hennepin, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott, Sibley and Wright counties.
This year’s Lifeline for a Lifetime campaign will raise funds to purchase three new ambulances to deliver fast and effective emergency care to people like Phil. Your support of this campaign is critical to making a profound difference for community members who experience health care emergencies. Help Ridgeview Ambulance save more lives!
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