High school ref recovering after on-field heart attack

By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
-A +A
All reports from the hospital regarding the condition of referee Joel Miller are positive. Miller, the NCOA lead football official for the past four years, suffered a heart attack during Friday night's Granite Bay vs. Woodcreek football game at Granite Bay High. While he has remained in intensive care after moving from Sutter Roseville to Mercy General Hospital, the Sacramento resident had a pacemaker device inserted Monday at Mercy General and could be headed home as early as Wednesday. "He is progressing well and expects to be home by the end of the week," said NCOA supervisor of officials Jim Jorgensen on Monday. “The response time of emergency personnel at Granite Bay was outstanding. The doctors, ambulance staff of EMTs and Granite Bay staff had their “A” game that night.” Jorgensen has been in contact with Miller's wife, Tavia, who expressed her gratitude to the athletic staff at Granite Bay, the staff at Sutter Hospital and to the NCOA staff for their assistance and support. The quick action of medical personnel on the field at Granite Bay provided CPR to revive Miller on the field before he was transported to Sutter Roseville Hospital. The official collapsed in the closing moments of the Friday night football game between Granite Bay and Woodcreek, and required several minutes of CPR. The game was discontinued as all assembled waited anxiously for some good news. Francis Banks, who was the line judge on the Granite Bay sideline, was one of the first people to reach Miller after he fell near the 20-yard-line while trailing a fake punt play. After initially falling, the official attempted to get up, but was only able to raise to an elbow before collapsing to the field. “When I first got to him, he was unconscious, but he was breathing, though very unevenly,” Banks said. “It was a scary moment when he stopped breathing.” Fortunately for Miller, the Grizzlies have a full complement of well-trained medical professionals on staff. Dr. Paul Diemer and Brian Alvarez, a law enforcement officer were both on the Granite Bay sidelines. They raced to Miller’s aid and immediately began CPR. Dr. Kevin Hansen, from the Granite Bay team medical staff, joined them as soon as he had taken care of things with the Grizzly player, Charlie Gordon, who had been knocked unconscious on the same play. The trio treated Miller until he could be turned over to the EMTs and ambulance personnel on scene. “The doctors who were working on him probably saved his life,” said Doug Wilkinson, the umpire on the crew that night. “Three to five minutes earlier, during a timeout, something did not look right with Joel and I asked him if he was okay as he looked like he was breathing funny. I was concerned about him, but he said he was fine.” In addition to his role as a lead high school, official, Miller manages an insurance agency in midtown Sacramento.