Minnesota high school referee recovering after suffering heart attack on football field

Updated: October 05, 2019 08:40 AM

A high school football referee from Central Minnesota is recovering after suffering a heart attack in the middle of a game.

Seventy-one-year-old Michael Canfield is out of the hospital and doing well thanks to the quick response from some coaches and parents. 


"I've never seen anything like this at Kimball or really anywhere," said Brett Schiefelbein, a freshman on the Kimball football team. 

Right after halftime, players on the field noticed something wasn't right.

"Went to the sideline and looked over and one of the refs was down in the middle of the field, kind of holding his heart," said Andrew Mehr, a freshman on the football team. 

Mike Schindler, a parent and firefighter, rushed to the field to help Canfield who was having a medical emergency.

"We rolled him to his back and that's when we lost his pulse," Schindler said. 

With the help of a trainer and several others, they used the defibrillator on scene to help save the man's life. 

"The training that we go through prepares you for it," Schindler said. "It's always good to be a part of the saves."

Friends say Canfield, who's been a referee for decades, is recovering and doing well after getting two stents and a pacemaker installed.

"We wish Mike nothing but the best obviously, we've thought about him all week long," said Johnny Benson, the Kimball football coach.

While the game was suspended, Benson said that's the reality of life, and it's a valuable lesson for the kids.

"We've had the plan, there's a reason we practice it and you show the kids this is how you respond when this sort of thing happens," Benson said. 

"Now I always got that in the back of my mind," Mehr said. 

Canfield is at a nursing home at St. Cloud and will be there for the next couple weeks to recover.

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Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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