Local parents help safe life of referee who collapsed at basketball game

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WKBT)–While there aren’t as may fans at nearby basketball games, in one local gym, the right people where there when it was a life-or-death situation.

You can hear the return of winter sports, the sounds of the game are all back at West Salem.

But one familiar noise isn’t as loud as it used to be.

West Salem parent Bob Wright used to be surrounded by similar cheers, but now attendance is limited.

“I can count on my hands how many games of my son’s career I missed since the third grade. No one beats me to a game.”

Meaning’ Bob’s cheers, and jeers stand out a bit more during games. But one one night, it’s not what he said, but what he heard that made a difference.

“I heard a faint whistle from an official, and he slumped over in his chair, and that’s when time slowed down for me. I instinctively got up and ran towards it,” recalled Wright.

“I hollered for an AED, I know we have an automatic external defibrillator in the facility.”

Bob was joined by other parents in the area, including Mauston fan Michael Wolf to aid the referee who collapsed.

“I made a beeline to the other side of the gym,” said Wolf.

“They started CPR, and we could get a few breaths, and then 2 minutes into the CPR, the AED asked you to stop, and it did not advise shock which is a great thing,” said Wright.

The team of fans were able to revive the ref, and were told he was resting comfortably in a nearby hospital.

“It was a heck of a test Monday, but for West Salem parents to come down and assist it speaks volumes for what happens in a small community. There’s a lot of heroes that were there,” said Wolf.

But Bob doesn’t see himself as a hero.

“I was just part of the team.”

He’s just a fan, sitting in his normal spot, making up for all the noise he’s made in the stands.

“Take it from me. I’ve given these officials and referees enough grief, and I feel like I owed them.”