CHATHAM, Va. – Shortly after Chatham and Floyd County tipped off Friday night, a scary situation brought the game to a stop.
"I was following the ball back and forth and I heard some noise," athletic trainer Aaron Taylor recalled." "Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an official had fallen. When I got there, he was having labored breathing."
Referee Mark Strosnider was going into cardiac arrest.
"Aaron was my guardian angel. He saved my life," Taylor said in a phone interview Monday from his hospital room in Lynchburg.
Chatham head basketball coach Charles Warren called 911 and a nurse grabbed the nearby automated external defibrillator -- or AED for short.
"Aaron Taylor had instructed me to remove the shirt so we could use the AED," Warren said.
Virginia requires that all public high school coaches be trained in CPR and using an AED.
"(The classes) teach us a lot," Warren said. "I was very grateful that (the VHSL) had put us through those classes this year."
The AED worked.
Strosnider's heart started beating again.
But not for long.
He had to be shocked a second time.
Taylor said this was the first time in his 16 years as an athletic trainer that he's had to use an AED to help save someone's life.
"You don't really think about it. You just do what you've been trained to do," Taylor said.
"Fortunately, I do not remember anything that happened until I woke up in the rescue squad on the way to Danville," Strosnider said.
After initial treatment in Danville, he was taken to Lynchburg for more advanced treatment.
He'll undergo open heart surgery Tuesday morning.
He hopes to be back on the court when next basketball season begins in the fall.
Mark's family released this statement Monday:
"Mark is here today because Aaron saved his life. There are no words to adequately express how truly thankful we are for Aaron’s quick response on the court, for the first responders that cared for Mark on the way to the hospital and the countless doctors and nurses that have already cared for him. Thank you just isn’t enough. Mark still has some recovery ahead of him, but he is already excited about getting back out on that court! With love and admiration, Mark, Nancy and Dudley Strosnider"