Mar 14, 2022
After Failed Pacemaker, Ref’s Life Saved By ATC & AED

A Colorado athletic trainer’s quick decision-making saved the life of a referee recently.

Bear Creek High School’s certified athletic trainer Ashley Cowan came to the aid of referee Harold ‘Woody’ White during a regular-season meeting between the Bear Creek girls’ basketball team.

When the batteries of White’s pacemaker died during the first half of competition, his heart stopped and he collapsed on the floor, according to a report from

aedBelow is a detailed breakdown of the life-saving actions of Cowan, courtesy of

“It very quickly declined,” Cowan said. “He wasn’t breathing, we couldn’t feel a pulse.”

Cowan instructed a BCHS player to grab the AED defibrillator they had on-site, the athletic director called the ambulance and numerous bystanders came to assist White as well. That included one of White’s colleagues who was also refereeing the game. He let them know that White had a pacemaker and told them a parent in the stands was a respiratory therapist.

The group administered CPR and attached the AED to White and shocked him in attempts to save his life. White was able eventually to breathe under his own power and was taken to the hospital.

Three weeks later, he returned to Bear Creek High School to thank Cowan. He was also recognized before the start of the BCHS Heritage re-make game (the game was postponed after the incident).

White and Cowan watched the video of the sequence together, as it was captured by an autonomous camera at the top of the gym.

“I’m just very thankful the Lord puts you in different places for different reasons at different times I told my wife that I was in the right place at the right time and I’m alright with that,” White said to Cowan after watching the video and shedding tears.

This is the second time White has had a heart attack while refereeing a game. Fifteen years ago, a very similar thing happened as he was working a men’s league game at a church in Denver.

Woody is still recovering with his wife and children, including his four-year-old son at home.

To read the full story from about the Colorado athletic trainer, click here. 

Shop see all »

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
website development by deyo designs
Interested in receiving the print or digital edition of Training & Conditioning?

Subscribe Today »

Be sure to check out our sister sites: