About 10 years ago Bernie Diakow thought it would be a good idea for the Parksville ice arena to have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
He was a member of Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association (PGOSA) and was playing hockey at a tournament in Victoria when a player at the rink had to be resuscitated with the AED. When the Parksville players returned, they held a meeting and voted to pay for an AED. Diakow said his teammates joked that he would probably be the first one to need the machine because he was the oldest player. Little did he know then that they were right, but it was no joking matter. Diakow collapsed on his way to the bench while playing at Oceanside Place on September 21 and if the fast acting staff had not come to his aid with CPR and the AED, he may not be telling his story today.
Diakow said he doesn’t remember much about the incident. His wife Bernice was at the arena, but wasn’t allowed to watch the emergency response. She did say the staff reacted quickly and professionally and she credits them for saving her husband’s life.
Diakow was a bit dismayed to learn his rescuers had to cut his brand new shoulder pads off of him to get to his chest.
“They were my new ones. I had only used them a few times.”
Daikow, who played hockey three to four times a week, said his five hour heart by-pass surgery has left him weak but once he regains his strength, he will be back on the ice.
“I miss playing hockey. The hardest part is sitting around doing nothing. One day I will go to the arena to watch them.”
The 81-year-old played defence and said his team hasn’t been winning as many games with him out of the lineup.
“Most guys don’t like to block shots, but that doesn’t bother me.”
Diakow said he started playing hockey as a young boy when he lived on a farm in Saskatchewan. The first time he attempted ice skating, he borrowed his sister’s figure skates and ruined them.
“Was she ever mad at me,” recalled Diakow, who was only five or six at the time.
With just his ice skates and a few belongings, Diakow jumped on the train and moved to B.C. when he was 16 years old. He said when he arrived in Prince George, it was the first time he had ever skated in an ice rink. It wasn’t until 1954 that Diakow made it to the coast and he has been here ever since.
The Diakows can’t say enough about the benefits of PGOSA in the community.
There are an ever-increasing number of people making Oceanside their retirement destination and the group is dedicated to helping them maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.
Incorporated in 1993, the Association has grown from a few founding members to the present membership of more than one thousand.
Many members have completed a first aid and CPR course, sponsored and subsidized by PGOSA for the benefit and safety of all members.
The winter-time activities include a hockey program, where seniors can play drop-in three times a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There are two sessions each day, to accommodate the large number of seniors (over 160) taking part in the game. Four tournaments are held each season, where teams compete for the coveted PGOSA Cup. For the more competitive hockey players there are rep teams that compete in outside tournaments. Oceanside operates a four-team 55+ league and a three-team 70+ league.