Local cop uses personal trial to inspire Castlegar's Hockeyville bid
Ed. Note: This was written and posted on Castlegar is Kraft Hockeyville’s Facebook page by RCMP Const. Wally Bursey. It’s relevant, not only as a tribute to sport in our community, but also to inform the many, many people who were shocked by Bursey’s heart attack and would probably like to know that he’s recovering and back on the ice playing hockey.
In an interview yesterday, Bursey said he originally didn’t want to write this or share his story – then realized it might inspire others to get excited about the game and join the camaraderie and community spirit of Castlegar’s bid to become Kraft Hockeyville 2014.
It was November 18, 2012, a Sunday night and as I got ready to play a Castlegar Gentleman’s Hockey league game, I felt like I had a mild case of heart burn and didn’t think much of it. We were short of skaters, which was typical for our team, but I was excited because I knew I’d get more ice time as one of three defensemen. When I went out for my first shift, I felt short of breath and couldn’t take a full stride. I came off early and told the guys how I felt, caught my breath and went out again. I never get heart burn, I told myself, but I couldn’t think of what else it could be.
Several times during the game, teammates asked how I was because I was never one to shy away from ice time. Again, I couldn’t skate the length of the ice and came off again, not realizing that something serious was wrong. I finished the game and went into the dressing room. Usually I’m one of the first ones to get changed and showered and then relax after the game before heading home, but this time was different. I barely had the energy to get my gear off from the waste up. As I sat there with my head cradled in my hands, I remember a teammate asking, are you okay?
That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in the Kelowna General Hospital four days later. My wife told me that I had a massive heart attack with a 100 per cent blockage in one artery and was lucky to be alive, let alone have survived without further complications.
I was in shock!
It was the last thing I ever expected to have happened to me, considering my level of fitness for my age. (I was 50 at the time, playing with and against young men half my age) My wife told me the AED was used for the first time at the Castlegar Community Complex and between my teammates, players from the other team and the rink attendant running to retrieve the AED, they were able to save my life. The community has since acquired another AED which is now located at ice level between the two players benches should it be required again to save another player’s life.
Having been given a second chance at life, I truly have the community of Castlegar’s passion for, not just the game, but life itself to thank, having installed the AED. Those involved who saved my life I’ve thanked and they have been recognized by the Community of Castlegar for their efforts. I’m back playing hockey this season, albeit not at the pace I’m used to, but I’m playing once again. As spirited and competitive as our game is, the cheers I received from my fellow players my first game back in September was a feeling I will truly never forget and it showed the spirit of the game. They were as glad as I was to see me back. I’m more passionate about the game now than I ever was and it’s because the community spirit of my fellow hockey players, some of whom are parents of minor hockey players, that the game is alive and well in our community of Castlegar.