Coach Alex White stands with rescuers

Coach Alex White stands with his rescuers and EMTs from Bay Cities Ambulance during Monday night's Coos Bay School Board meeting.

COOS BAY – On Jan. 21, Coach Alex White had a heart attack after a boys’ basketball game at Millicoma Middle School.

During the regular Coos Bay School Board meeting on Monday, Rick Cooper from Bay Cities Ambulance honored the seven people who saved Coach White’s life.

“Tonight is months in the making,” Cooper told the crowded room. “Thanks to these heroes, Coach White is here with us tonight. They all had a link the chain of survival during a possible cardiac arrest and the American Heart Association wants to recognize them.”

That night in January, White’s middle school basketball team had just lost the game to North Bend. Though he said he doesn’t remember much, he does remember someone saying he wouldn’t come back to life.

“So those of you who didn’t listen, but continued to do your job, thank you and I can’t say enough, from the bottom of my heart, how much I love you,” White said.

After he collapsed in the Millicoma Gym, a student remembered that the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was kept in the main office. He took with him White’s friend, Matt Devine, who ripped the AED off the wall to take it back with them to the gym.

“I remember when the lights came back on and Matt said to me, ‘Don’t sue me if I broke anything,’” White laughed. “I may have heart issues, but my ribcage is strong because no one could believe that nothing was broken during CPR, so I have that going for me.”

Cooper, who also serves as a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association, went on to honor not only Devine, but Karrie Devine, Jamie Bridgham, Rob Schoville, Pam Connley, John Newsum, and Bryson Hampbel.

“These are the people who called 911, went to get the AED, cleared the gym of kids, and started CPR,” Cooper said. “All individuals played an important part in the event. We also want to recognize the Coos Bay School District for having an AED in the school. As we know in the medical field, AEDs save lives.”

In a letter from the association, Cooper read aloud that these seven people not only “helped save a life in our community, but also partnered with the American Heart Association to prove the survival rate of citizens who receive CPR.”

Not only that, but White’s wife and two of his children were in the gym that day. White conveyed his gratitude to parents who thought to remove them from the gym.

“It is amazing to have had conducted CPR training and to now stand in front of a group to say for a fact it works,” White said. “Thank you to the school board for making sure there are AEDs in the school and the people who used it. Thank you. Thank you.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.