Player, nurses revive North Dakota referee after heart stops at Shrine Bowl

A North Dakota high school football referee is lucky he was in the right place at the right time when he collapsed on the field Saturday, June 19.

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WEST FARGO — Kevin Baumgarn of Lakota is continuing to recover after his heart stopped and he collapsed on the field during the North Dakota Shrine Bowl Saturday, June 19.

After a year off because the coronavirus pandemic shut down last year's game , action returned to the field at Sheyenne High School. But suddenly the game stopped, and so did referee Baumgarn's heart.

"When the center bent over to touch the ball, I felt dizzy and I thought, 'It will go away.' And as they snapped the ball and ran to my right, I pivoted and the world went dark," Baumgarn said.

"I see the ref rip off Kevin's shirt and check for a pulse and yelling for a medic or 911," said Grant County football player Jon Bogert, who was near the field


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High school football referee Kevin Baumgarn with nursed and high school senior Jon Bogert working to revive him.

Bogert is trained in CPR and in the use of an automated external defibrillator, so he ran onto the field to help.

"I pulled apart the two pads, the upper and lower pads and the AED pretty much started right away," he said.

The recent high school graduate took charge of the situation and used the AED to restart Baumgarn's heart.

"The AED said, 'Shock advised,' and I thought, 'This is really going to happen.' I told everyone to stay clear, and I saw his body flail," Bogert said. "It hurt to watch, and I was hoping he would come back, but the nurses started CPR again."

A team of nurses who happened to be in the stands performed CPR that, along with the AED, restarted Baumgarn's heart.

"I think it was a minute, and he started to blink and talk. It was great to see," Bogert said.

Since then, Baumgarn has been recovering at Sanford Health, a survivor of cardiac arrest.


"It turned out great; I could not ask for a better outcome," he said.

For the college-bound Bogert from Elgin, it was a little hard to play a game after that experience, but that didn't matter. To him, seeing Baumgarn go from unresponsive and no heartbeat to alive and talking is a fair trade.

"(It) could have been so much worse. (I am) so thankful he is here today, and that is good," Bogert said.

As for Baumgarn, words he heard just days ago from Hunter Pinke at a conference ring true for him today.

"I am alive, I am still alive. I can make choices, and people love me," Baumgarn said. "(It) really makes you sit and think and makes you pretty happy you are still around."

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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