A few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.
That’s what Brian Riley, Army hockey head coach, told Fox News Digital after Eric Huss suffered a severe neck injury from an inadvertent skate in a game against Sacred Heart on Thursday.
“The doctors said he had five to ten minutes more if what hadn’t been done, and he hadn’t gotten to the hospital, he would not be here today,” Riley said of the injury to his player.
Riley credits trainer Rachel Leahy – who acted quickly when she saw the blood coming from Huss’s neck – for saving the young hockey player’s life.
“No doubt,” Riley told Fox News when asked if Leahy’s actions saved Huss’s life. “No doubt. And the surgeon told Eric’s parents that.”
The injury occurred in the second period against Sacred Heart when an inadvertent skate caught Huss in the neck.
“It was in the middle of the ice,” Riley said. “One of our players and one of the Sacred Heart players had a collision. Eric was not involved in the collision but he was close enough by so that when the Sacred Heart player lost his balance and his skates went up into the air, as Eric was skating by the Sacred Heart player caught his neck. Sliced his neck.”
As Huss skated off the ice, the seriousness of the wound became apparent.
“As he got closer to the bench, you saw the amount of blood,” Riley detailed. “And he had his hand up to his throat. And right when he got to our bench, he kind of moved his hand for a second, and you saw this gaping hole. Blood was spurting out.”
It was then that Leahy sprang into action.
“She leaped over the bench – over the boards – and had a towel. [Leahy] wrapped the towel around, put her hand on the artery – her finger — and with her other hand she was squeezing the wound together,” Riley said.
“And she did not let go from that moment until they got to the hospital.”
Huss went into surgery Thursday night and returned to West Point Friday afternoon.
The team took Friday off after the emotional night but got together on Saturday, where Huss was able to thank Leahy for her actions.
“We got together today, got into the locker room, and Eric was in there and Rachel was in there,” Riley told Fox News Digital on Saturday. “First of all, his teammates were able to see him and know that he was alright. And then we were able to talk about Rachel, and Eric was able to talk to Rachel and basically thank her for saving his life.
“We lost the game, but we won the game of life that night because of what Rachel did to make sure that Eric is still with us today.”
Riley shined a light on the work that trainers do just a few days after trainers for the Buffalo Bills were credited with saving Damar Hamlin’s life, who suffered a cardiac arrest on the field Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“What you don’t realize is when there’s a potential catastrophic injury, your trainer is the first person that is going to respond,” Riley told Fox News Digital. “And their response could mean the difference between life and death.”
“What they do behind the scenes and never have anybody pat them on the back really,” Riley added. “Or don’t even have anybody that knows what they do. But to see the Buffalo athletic trainer, to see how he responded. To see how Rachel responded … They just respond like they’ve done it 100 times before. And just with the professionalism and calmness is amazing.”
Huss is a junior from Dallas, Texas.