Firefighter who saved referee’s life honored at basketball game

In basketball parlance, 25-year-old Myles Copeland just delivered the biggest assist of his career.

KOKOMO, Ind. — If life is like a basketball game, then 25-year-old Myles Copeland just delivered the biggest assist of his career.

“It’s what they train you for, run towards the emergency, don’t run away from it,” Copeland explained of his job. 

Video captured at a basketball game last weekend in Upstate New York, captured Copeland doing exactly what he’s been trained to do as a firefighter with the Toledo, Ohio Fire Department. 

Except in the video, Copeland wasn’t in a fireman’s uniform when an emergency struck unexpectedly. He was in the uniform he wears as a forward with the Toledo Glass City Basketball Team. 

Copeland and his team were in a playoff game against the Jamestown Jackals when a referee collapsed with a heart attack with near the end of the first quarter. 

“I saw him fall and I think the whole gym heard him hit the floor, so everyone was just kind of in shock,” said Copeland  

But not Copeland. He raced across the court. 

“In my mind, I just go into firefighter mode,” he said. 

“I was sitting right there when it happened,” said David Magley, president of the basketball league. He called 911. 

“I’m going, ‘He’s dying,’” Magley said of the referee on the floor. “In my mind, he’s gone. No breath, no blood pressure. I don’t know CPR. I’m hoping somebody does.”

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That somebody turned out to be one of the players in Magley’s league. 

“I’m like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ and I look closer, and he’s got his warmups on. He’s a player!” said Magley, still shaking his head in disbelief. “I’m like, ‘Wait a minute! One of our players is doing CPR!” Magley remembered thinking.

“I worked on him for about 10 minutes before paramedics were able to get there,” Copeland said of his lifesaving actions. 

By the time paramedics got there, the ref was awake and talking, Copeland said.

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“He was talking about how he wanted to get back in and ref the game,” said Copeland.

Copeland who went on to help his team win that game and another the next day. 

Ironically, Copeland doesn’t usually play with the traveling team, but Magley said Copeland had worked a 24-hour shift so he could play in the game against Jamestown. 

“But God,” said Magley. 

On Thursday, Magley was in Kokomo as the Glass City team faced the Kokomo BobKats in the opener of the league’s Midwestern Conference finals. First though, a ceremony to honor Copeland, a firefighter, a basketball player and now, another man’s hero. 

“I hear all these things about our young men, our young African American men, what they’re not, and what they aren’t, but he represents everything that’s good about our young people today,” said Magley. “There’s so many great young men that we see that never get to be seen like Myles, and I’m just honored that he plays in our league.”

“Someone is here today because of you,” 13News reporter Emily Longnecker told Copeland. 

“It’s an amazing feeling, something you’ll never get over, something I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life,” he said, adding that the referee is scheduled for triple bypass surgery on Friday. 

Is there anything Copeland can’t do?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure that out.

“Where’s your cape?” Longnecker then asked. 

“I don’t need a cape,” Copeland said, smiling.

This is what heroes look like.

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