Witnessing a matter of life and death

DEFIBRILLATORS save lives. I witnessed that first hand Monday night at Steubenville.

Just as important as having a defibrillator (AED) close at hand is having qualified individuals to operate it.

Both those elements came together at the Crimson Center about 7:15 p.m. As a result, Chet Masloski has a new lease on life.

The longtime boys’ prep basketball coach collapsed after the end of his granddaughter’s game, a contest in which Emiley Masloski sparkled in Steubenville’s hard-fought win over St. John Central.

As I walked out of the lockerroom, the Crimson Center was nearly vacant. Most of the remaining people in the gym were the Masloski family and medical personnel.

Chet was lying face up near midcourt right in front of the stands. He was not breathing. Family members were in shock, disbelief and tears.

But a defibrillator in well-trained hands can prove a life saver. The Masloskis will attest to such.

As fate would have it, two parents of Big Red players are nurses and both in attendance.

“It was a community effort. Directly helping him were two parents of players: Diana Bodo (daughter Brittany is a sophomore) and Joyce Young (daughter Taylor is a freshman). They are both nurses and knew exactly what to do,” said Mark Masloski, Chet’s son and Emiley’s dad. “From the moment that my dad collapsed, the nurses positioned him correctly, ordered the call to 911, yelled for the AED, used it to shock him, and talked him back to us; they kept him stable and informed the EMS of exactly what was done.

“Our coaching staff (Lynn Meyer and Gus DiMarzio) ran to retrieve the AED, getting it to the gym quickly while Phil Casinelli and Larry Carrocci cleared the gym of bystanders and kept the team in the locker room with Emiley. Our custodians (Jimmy Kinney & Eric Harris) ushered the EMS team to our location.”

Teamwork helps to win games in sports. In medical emergencies, it can save lives.

“Everyone worked together to save my dad’s life. There was a definite sense of urgency, but never a sense of panic,” Mark continued. “Coach Meyer and Coach Ross Ivkovich and teammates came to our house to stay with our daughters while we were at the hospital.

“Dad is doing a lot better. When he went to ER, they did a heart cath. They found 100 percent blockage in the front left diagonal artery and put a stent in it to clear it up,” he added. “Thank God that he was at a place that had the right people and equipment to bring him back to life. For all places for it to happen, a basketball court where he has enjoyed most of his life makes sense.”

Among Chet’s many coaching assignments was one as head coach at Buckeye West High School when Mark and twin brother Mike played for the Silver Knights.

Chet, 65, was released from the hospital Thursday and is doing fine, Mark said, adding that he is resting comfortably at his Adena home.

Chet is a tough customer, he will be back in the stands for Emiley’s game Monday.


CONGRATULATIONS TO Scooter Tolzda on a remarkable achievement. Scooter pocketed his 300th career varsity basketball win this past Tuesday as Beallsville hammered Frontier. Scooter is one of the premier coaches in the OVAC, often times overlooked because he coaches at a small, out-of-the-way school. Not only is he one of the best, Scooter is also one of the nicest and most helpful coaches in the business. He is a superb clinician. Scooter, who guided the Blue Devils to the regionals back in the early 90s, has his Big Blue on a remarkable run this year.

ST. CLAIR Lanes is holding a benefit for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Upper Ohio Valley. Valentine’s Scotch Doubles will be held Friday, Feb. 10. Registration begins at 8:30 p.m. with bowling commencing at 9 p.m. Cost is $25 per couple. Big Brothers/Big Sisters is a United Way agency.

UNLESS HE does something stupid or some shocking revelation surfaces, Mitt Romney is in the fast lane toward the GOP nomination for presidency. Romney’s resounding route of Newt Gingrich and the balance of the field in Florida gives the former Massachusetts governor a strong upperhand with Nevada the next primary on tap.

THE ST. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce and its legislative committee will host a “meet the candidate” luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at Undo’s West on National Road, St. Clairsville. The event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. and will be an opportunity for local, state and federal candidates to speak out before the March 6 primary. The chamber welcomes and encourages the public to attend and hear what the candidates have to say. Cost of the lunch is $15 at the door. Reservations can be made by calling the chamber office at (740) 695-9623.

HOW SHORT and unfair life can be was reinforced this past Tuesday when Steubenville High freshman star athlete Lee West died in a fire at his home. I knew Lee quite well through his basketball prowess. He was a super young man from a class family. Lee had a chance to be the starting Big Red QB as a sophomore. That is how talented he was. The Ohio Valley has showered the family with support, both emotionally and monetarily. Lee’s tragic death just tells us to take nothing for granted and live life to its fullest every day.

AS I noted in Rich Gibson’s annual Super Bowl prediction column today, I must pick against my Giants. Patriots’ QB Tom Brady will bring his A+ game after a sub-par performance in the AFC title game.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleaderonline.com