Thursday, January 8, 2004

Eau Claire North Coach Resuscitated, Thanks to Defibrillator

Associated Press (Chippewa Falls, WI)
January 8, 2004

A defibrillator at a high school helped resuscitate a coach when he fell to the floor during a high school girls basketball game, a day after his team was ranked first in the state.

Dan Sippel, 56, the Eau Claire North girls basketball coach, fell face-first to the court Tuesday night with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter of a 48-28 North victory as his team remained undefeated in 10 games.

On Monday, Eau Claire North was voted first in the Associated Press state Division 1 high school basketball poll.

Sippel was hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday after collapsing from a heart attack at a game against Chippewa Falls.

Eau Claire superintendent Thomas Fiedler said Sippel also cut his forehead when he fell and was unconscious until he was revived with a cardiac defibrillator. Fiedler said the coach underwent surgery.

Eau Claire North Assistant Principal Becky Davis said the defibrillator was installed at the school last February at the urging of a school nurse who has since retired.

Sue Johnson, a nurse who had returned to the main gym after watching her daughter play in a freshman game, started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as another nurse, Brenda Layman, started chest compressions. She was asked if Sippel needed defibrillation.

"I knew that's what was needed, but I didn't realize they had it at the school," Johnson said.

Two Eau Claire Fire Department members who were at the game took over. Dave Gee said he took over the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while Lance Hanson set up the defibrillator.

Sippel "came around" after the first shock, Hanson said. "Within 15 to 20 seconds his eyes started blinking, and he started breathing." Dr. Stuart Bergen, medical director of the state Project ADAM at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, said it was the first time a school participating in the program used a defibrillator to resuscitate someone.

The program is named for Whitefish Bay High School student Adam Lemel, who collapsed and died during a 1999 basketball game from an undetected heart condition. It gives schools information on defibrillators and helps get them training for using the equipment.

Dr. Douglas Terpstra, an Eau Claire orthodontist who also was among those who offered help, said Sippel was lucky.

"What struck me, when I look back, is how fortunate he was that it happened at a high school with a defibrillator, where there were people trained in CPR," he said. "Had Sippel fallen anywhere else other than a hospital, there would have been some more serious problems." Although there was time remaining in the game, Chippewa Falls coach Jeff Dahl immediately told the referees he had no interest in continuing.

Sippel was given a standing ovation as he was wheeled out of the gym.

"All of our thoughts, prayers and wishes are with Sip right now," North forward Molly Anderson said. "We are the team we are because of him."

Sippel works in campus security at North, and his wife, Diane, is a general assistant at the school. On Wednesday, she thanked everyone at the school for their help.

"The defibrillator at the high school saved his life, and we are so glad it was there for Dan," she said.

Dan Sippel served as an assistant coach for eight years before taking the head coaching job before the 1999-2000 season. He has also been an assistant coach for the North football and softball teams for the last 13 years.
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