Susan Blackson woke up around 2 a.m. Dec. 3 and received a text message she was very glad to receive.
Reading freshman boys’ basketball coach Jerry Overbeck made it through successful surgery at Bethesda North Hospital just hours after having a heart attack in the Reading High School locker room.
Blackson, the Reading athletic trainer since 2012, and off-duty medical professionals Bryan Young, a St. Bernard paramedic, and Jennifer Raleigh, a UC trauma nurse, helped to resuscitate the 56-year-old Overbeck after the Indian Hill at Reading varsity boys’ basketball game the night of Dec. 2.
“If the three of them weren’t there they said he would’ve been gone,” said Terry Overbeck, Jerry’s wife. “I really think they saved his life. It happened at the right place at the right time.”
Jerry Overbeck, a 1979 Reading graduate, is resting at home this week. A lifelong Reading resident, Overbeck played basketball at the school and has been a freshman boys’ basketball coach the past three years.
“He’s a Reading guy through and through,” Reading varsity boys basketball coach Bill Stidham said. “His children (Jeremy, Jason, Jake and Jessica) went to Reading. He goes to all the events and functions.”
So it’s no wonder why family and friends have donated to a GoFundMe account to help defray medical costs since it’s uncertain when Jerry will return to work as an auto mechanic.
The account has raised over $4,000 as of Wednesday night after it was set up Monday.
“The support of the Reading community is unbelievable,” said Terry Overbeck, a 1975 Reading graduate. “Their prayers have been great.”
The Reading community will take time to recognize the efforts of Blackson, Young and Raleigh Dec. 21 at the Board of Education meeting room at the middle school at 5:30 p.m. The Overbeck family is also expected to attend.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the three,” Reading Principal Dennis Ramsey said. “They were in the ultimate position. They stepped up and they worked very quickly.”
The Overbeck family can’t say enough about the quick response and communication from the three medical professionals, coaches, players and Athletic Director Jon Payne.
“It was a collective effort,” Stidham said. “We were all working together to save (Jerry’s) life.”
For Blackson, a Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine trainer and Edgewood resident, Dec. 2 was the first opportunity to be in such a life-and-death situation in her position.
The Strongsville, Ohio native has been an athletic trainer since 2003. She was previously at Mount St. Joseph from 2006 to 2012 prior to Reading.
Before every game or athletic event, she has a mental checklist of what she needs to be aware if a situation arises. Dec. 2 was one of those nights. She was ready.
Between 9:30 and 10 p.m., Blackson heard Jerry was in trouble. He had gone to the restroom near the locker room and coaches heard a thump on the floor. They found him unresponsive. His face looked purple.
The players were rushed out of locker room. Emergency 911 was called. Payne went to the weight room to retrieve the automated external defibrillator (AED) while Blackson and Young worked on Jerry. Raleigh went to help with CPR.
Jacob Courtney, a Reading basketball player, told Terry about the situation. She went to the locker room with her sons, Jeremy and Jake.
“I went down there with the boys and we held on to each other,” Terry said.
It took two shocks to get Jerry’s heart to a beating rhythm.
Blackson didn’t flinch under stress. She was very thankful to have the assistance of Young and Raleigh. Everyone stayed calm under tremendous pressure.
“I think the adrenaline just kicks in,” said Blackson, who has been at Reading since fall 2012. “You just go. You don’t stop and don’t think.”
The next morning, Blackson visited the hospital to see Jerry. The whole weekend had been a blur of sorts for Blackson.
“It was unbelievable to see in less than 24 hours he could talk to me and hold a conversation,” Blackson said. “The first thing he said was thank you.”
Some of the players have visited Jerry. But they understand he needs rest. Stidham says the team has a few ideas in mind to recognize Jerry when the time is right.
For now, Stidham is being truthful to his players about Jerry’s condition. Jerry had a stent installed and it will be an extensive rehabilitation process for his heart. The coach is in their thoughts at school.
Stidham is also thankful for the AED that was available that night at school. Those extra seconds proved valuable in the ultimate time of need.
“Without the AED I don’t think Mr. Overbeck would’ve made it out that night,” Stidham said.