Cop, Health Teacher Save Ref Who Collapsed at Suburban Football Game

The conditions seemed perfect for a football game Thursday night as the freshman Wheeling Wildcats took the field.

Rick Richardson is one of the assistant coaches and also a Wheeling police officer.

"Week nine, it was the last game of the regular season, you can't beat that, usually we're under a hoodie and hat and all that," Richardson said.

But things took a turn for the worse in the second quarter when a referee collapsed on the field.

"My first instinct was to run out there to help him," Richardson said.

Varsity coach and health teacher, Joe Wolinski, also saw the ref fall and he made a run for the defibrillator near the field.

"I knew where an AED was and just ran up and tried to get it," Wolinski said. "I tried to see if anybody needed it."

Within seconds, the referee's heart stopped. Richardson helped attach the device and it gave the man a shock.

In an instant, he was back. Richardson continued to perform CPR. After a few minutes, the 55-year-old referee opened his eyes.

"We asked him, 'can you hear us? Are you OK?' And he started talking," Richardson recalled.

"It's kind of one of those surreal things that it's like looking back at it now, I'm like wow, that actually? I can't believe that," Wolinski said.

The coaches normally preach teamwork to their student-athletes. That night, they were a part of a team that worked to save the referee's life.

"We were all different pieces of the puzzle, but we came together to make it work," Richardson said.

Richardson is now being called a hero on the Wheeling High School campus.

"It's an honor to be thought of in that aspect and for people to be saying, 'you're a hero,' so I really appreciate it," he said.

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