North Texas

Football Official Thanks Rescuers Who Saved Him Friday

A North Texas high school football game came to a sudden stop for several minutes on Friday night, after an official collapsed on the field. Dennis Bennett, 69, suffered a heart attack while officiating the game between Celina High School and Melissa High school.

"I do remember just seeing his legs laying down and immediately realized that it was an official," said Jose Mendez, a licensed athletic trainer for Melissa High School.

Mendez rushed to help Bennett along with Dr. Andrew Parker, a sports medicine doctor in Allen who works with the team and volunteers on the sidelines.

People on the field called 911, a student trainer ran for an AED while a Celina trainer, Mendez and Parker began working to cut open Bennett's shirt and start rescue efforts.

"In the moment, we were all focused on doing what needed to be done to bring him back," said Dr. Parker.

The rescuers administered a shock with the AED and Dr. Parker began chest compressions. Within a few minutes, they brought Bennett back.

"It was a great moment after Dr. Parker got done with compressions and he gasped for air," said Mendez. "You realize that he's alive and that's the best moment."

"We're lucky to be in a position where we can help people who need our help," Dr. Parker said. "It's what both of us went to school for and feel we're called to do with our life."

Bennett is recovering at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in McKinney. He said doctors plan to implant a cardiac defibrillator in his chest on Monday and he may be released from the hospital as soon as Tuesday.

"Be thankful for every day you have," said Bennett, a father of four, grandfather of six and great grandfather of three.

He said he remembers waking up on a gurney and hearing cheers from the crowd at the game.

"I didn't notice anything until they picked me up, the gurney up, off the ground and everybody was cheering. I just gave them a thumbs up," Bennett said.

He says, aside from a hospital, doctors told him that football game was the second-best place to be to have a heart attack. He was near an AED and people who were trained to use it.

"Being in a place where one is accessible and having people around who aren't afraid to grab it and use it is huge," said Dr. Parker.

"I'm grateful they were there," said Bennett. "I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for them."

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