Article reposted from NJ.com
The first 11 months of Matt Barlow’s tenure asTrenton Catholic’s Academy‘s athletic trainer had been relatively uneventful.
That all changed last Thursday.
In a quite literally life-or-death situation, Barlow sprung into action on the opening day of the boys soccer season as he rushed on to the field and resuscitated a student-athlete that had collapsed.
The player, a defender for Riverside whose name has not been released, collapsed 25 minutes into the first half against Trenton Catholic in Hamilton. That’s when Barlow, who was hired by TCA last September, rushed on to the field.
The player, who collapsed face-down 20 yards away from the play, was breathing when he reached him, Barlow said, but that quickly changed as the player became unresponsive.
It was then that Barlow and Trenton Catholic assistant coach Scott Alvarez — a retired fireman — called for an ambulance and began performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) with the aid of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
“My assistant coach is a retired firefighter, he jumped in there and was ready to give compressions while I got in place to give breaths,” Barlow told NJ Advance Media on Monday. “After one round, he came to it with a loud gasp — kind of like when you get scared. We got vitals back and we just monitored until the EMS came and they took over from there.”
Barlow, who acknowledged that the heat, which was above 90 degrees during the game, could have certainly played a factor. Other, pre-existing and unknown medical conditions are always in play in these types of situations, he added.
“A lot of times when you read these stories in athletics, you can never rule out — until a kid gets a full workup done, which I’m sure he probably will get done — a cardiac condition because those are always lying and waiting and can come up and bite you at any time,” Barlow said. “I’m leaning more on the side of dehydration and the heat really getting to him and not taking in all the fluids you need for your first varsity game of the season.
“There were a million things running through my mind about what that young man could have and I’m just terribly relieved that when we got him up, he was breathing and had a pulse. That made things one thousand times better for me.”
Barlow, just over two years removed from college, said he never anticipated having to handle such an extreme situation so early in his career, but noted that his education and training had him prepared for anything.
“I consider myself very thankful,” he said. “All athletic trainers, we go through this training and I’ve heard stories from colleagues and clinical instructors going through this, but they’ve been in the game for 20 or 25 years, and for me, just a few years out of college, to finally get thrown into the fire like that, I never expected it to happen this early. I was very thankful that I hadn’t had to experience something like that, but since it happened, your training takes over and you get to work.”
Without the work of Barlow and the other assistant coaches, the final outcome may not have been as positive for the player.
“I really have to give it up to my assistant coaches,” Barlow said. “With one being a retired firefighter, he’s been through this many more times than I have and I had full confidence that they would have responded appropriately. But, for me to be there and just delegate responsibilities. I’m just happy that the assistant coaches were there and could help out in any way possible.”
“We are blessed here with our trainer and coaches,” Trenton Catholic president Sr. Dorothy Payne said. “All coaches have received training and we make sure that all health regulations are followed.”
Riverside, whose athletic department has so far declined to comment, opted to continue the game after the resuscitation and ultimately tied Trenton Catholic, 3-3.
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