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#AT4ALLSudden Cardiac Death

Quick-thinking Maryland Athletic Trainer helps save a man’s life

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Article reposted from Washington Post
Author: Scott Allen

It’s been an eventful few months for Anthony Benyarko since he became the Maryland men’s lacrosse team’s trainer in February. After the Terps captured their first national championship since 1975 on Memorial Day, Benyarko proposed to his girlfriend on the Gillette Stadium field. The intense emotions that Benyarko felt on that joyous day were rivaled by what he experienced on a lacrosse field in Lake Placid, N.Y., last Wednesday, when he helped save a man’s life.

Benyarko was in the trainer’s tent at the Lake Placid Summit Classic, a lacrosse tournament for men and women of all ages, when he received word that a player on the Ohio Wesleyan alumni team was experiencing chest pains. Before Benyarko and Penn trainer Anthony Erz, who also was working the tournament, started their 100-yard sprint toward Field 3, Benyarko thought to grab an automated external defibrillator.

“Something told me I should probably take the AED with me, just in case, because the group was 50-year-olds and up,” he said this week.

Benyarko and Erz arrived to find 54-year-old John Sussingham sitting up on the ground. While Erz called 911, Benyarko began talking to Sussingham, who said he felt tightness in his chest. About a minute later, Sussingham reported experiencing more intense chest pain and numbness in his left hand before losing consciousness. Benyarko did chest compressions and delivered a shock using the AED, which advised doing CPR.

“Halfway into my second cycle, his chest started to rise and he started breathing,” Benyarko said. “His eyes opened up again. We were pretty excited because your adrenaline is rushing, his wife was there, his son was there, all his teammates were there. That was a good moment, but we honestly celebrated too early.”

Sussingham’s chest pain returned and his arms went numb. State troopers told Benyarko and Erz that paramedics were on their way from Saranac Lake, which was 20 minutes away. Lake Placid volunteer EMT Mellissa “Missy” Furnia arrived on the scene and took over compressions after Sussingham had another heart attack and started to seizure. Benyarko worked to keep Sussingham’s airway open.

“You take the CPR course at the Red Cross and it’s nothing like the real thing,” Benyarko said. “People are screaming and yelling all around you. It’s really hard to focus. He started turning blue and I was getting a little bit worried and then the AED kicked back in. The AED advised a shock again. He had no pulse, so we started CPR, did CPR again, then it advised another shock. The third time we shocked him he started breathing again and his eyes opened.”

When the paramedics arrived, Benyarko said they gave Sussingham an IV and administered epinephrine. Sussingham started talking and was transported to a hospital, where the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported he had a stent placed in his artery.

“I’m feeling great,” Sussingham told the Daily Enterprise the following day. A teammate texted Benyarko a photo of Sussingham giving the thumbs-up sign from his hospital bed.

“It was a relief,” said Benyarko, who never experienced a similar emergency during his 10 years as an athletic trainer at the University of Albany before coming to Maryland. “People asked me how long it took. I couldn’t tell you. I lost all track of time really. You were just concentrated on one thing, and it was great having other people there to help.”

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Maryland Coach John Tillman arrived at the tournament a couple of days later and asked Benyarko why he hadn’t told him about his lifesaving incident.

“I was just like, I don’t know, it’s not something you brag about in a group of people,” said Benyarko, whose wedding is set for September 2018. “It just happened and you try to move on from it, you know? It kind of got bigger than I thought it would. … This summer has definitely been a roller coaster. I’m blessed.”

PreventionSudden Cardiac Death

Tennessee Athletic trainer, defibrillator saves man at baseball game

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Article reposted from WKRN.com
Author: Adam Snider

A day at the ball park nearly turned to tragedy – if not for a quick thinking athletic trainer and a life saving device.

It was a box on the wall that tends to blend in – to which Thomas Hobson owes his life.
“Yeah I’m feeling good today,” said Hobson, relaxing outside his home. “Last few days, I’ve been feeling pretty good.”

One night last month, while catching his grandson’s baseball game at White House Heritage High School, Thomas took a dive.

“My head started spinning real fast,” he explained. “I looked down, looked like the sidewalk was coming up to me, but I was falling, that’s the last thing I knew.”

Thomas came to on a stretcher, being whisked away to a nearby hospital.

Officials explained he just suffered a heart attack. Hobson was still alive thanks to a nearby defibrillator, and a fully prepared athletic trainer.

Andrea Gowan is a trainer with Heritage High. She and Hobson met for the first time since the incident Friday afternoon.

“I got a call from a parent, and then I heard them call for me over the PA system,” said Gowan. “I ran from soccer, down to baseball.”

She soon spotted a collapsed Hobson, a crowd of people, and a defibrillator ready to go.

(Photo: WKRN)
“Hooked the AED up, cleared everybody back,” said Gowan. “It delivered one shock, and we restarted CPR, and luckily after that first set of CPR he actually came back.”

Andrea had been properly defibrillator trained, but most of the devices are made to be used by all, with clearly marked instructions, or even voice commands.

“So having them available for people to use, to help save people, it makes a huge difference,” said Gowan.

“I’m glad you were there,” added Hobson. “Yeah I’m glad you were there, ‘cause if you hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Hobson now has a pace maker. He’s taking it easy at his doctor’s request, but says he’ll be back out watching baseball in no time.

Anyone interested in CPR, or defibrillator training, can visit the American Red Cross, or the American Heart Association.

A day at the ball park nearly turned to tragedy – if not for a quick thinking athletic trainer and a life saving device.

It was a box on the wall that tends to blend in – to which Thomas Hobson owes his life.

(Photo: WKRN)

“Yeah I’m feeling good today,” said Hobson, relaxing outside his home. “Last few days, I’ve been feeling pretty good.”

One night last month, while catching his grandson’s baseball game at White House Heritage High School, Thomas took a dive.

“My head started spinning real fast,” he explained. “I looked down, looked like the sidewalk was coming up to me, but I was falling, that’s the last thing I knew.”

Thomas came to on a stretcher, being whisked away to a nearby hospital.

Officials explained he just suffered a heart attack. Hobson was still alive thanks to a nearby defibrillator, and a fully prepared athletic trainer.

Andrea Gowan is a trainer with Heritage High. She and Hobson met for the first time since the incident Friday afternoon.

“I got a call from a parent, and then I heard them call for me over the PA system,” said Gowan. “I ran from soccer, down to baseball.”

She soon spotted a collapsed Hobson, a crowd of people, and a defibrillator ready to go.

(Photo: WKRN)

“Hooked the AED up, cleared everybody back,” said Gowan. “It delivered one shock, and we restarted CPR, and luckily after that first set of CPR he actually came back.”

Andrea had been properly defibrillator trained, but most of the devices are made to be used by all, with clearly marked instructions, or even voice commands.

“So having them available for people to use, to help save people, it makes a huge difference,” said Gowan.

“I’m glad you were there,” added Hobson. “Yeah I’m glad you were there, ‘cause if you hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Hobson now has a pace maker. He’s taking it easy at his doctor’s request, but says he’ll be back out watching baseball in no time.

Anyone interested in CPR, or defibrillator training, can visit the American Red Cross, or the American Heart Association.

PreventionSudden Cardiac Death

CSULB Athletic Trainer and Intern Honored for Saving a Student’s Life

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Article reposted from Long Beach Post
Author: ARIANA GASTELUM

The California Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA) honored Cal State Long Beach athletic training intern and student Tori Mulitauaopele and Golden West College Athletic Trainer Pat Frohn with the “Lifesaver Award” for rescuing track athlete Javier Venegas after he collapsed at a Golden West College (GWC) track meet, officials announced Friday.

Today, Venegas is fully recovered from what was determined to be a heart arrhythmia. He returned to school during the first week of February.

“Each cardiologist who saw him, at three different hospitals, said Javier was alive today because these individuals took action,” Javier’s mother Valerie Venegas said in a statement. “Luckily, the right people were in at the right place at the right time; this could have been a very different story.”

The ceremony recalled the actions that took place at the track meet, which occurred January 25.

Shortly after Venegas collapsed on the track, GWC’s track coach notified Frohn and Mulitauaopele, who were in Frohn’s office at the time. The two sprung into action, grabbing an emergency pack and racing to the scene.

“After checking his vitals, I confirmed Javier wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse,” Frohn said during the ceremony. “At that point, I took over chest compressions and instructed Tori to start rescue breathing.”

Frohn used an automated external defibrillator while he and Mulitauaopele performed CPR. These actions resulted in the jolt where Venegas’ heart started beating, and he began breathing. At this point, the EMT arrived to transport the athlete to the emergency room, where he was put into a medically-induced coma.

Additionally, during the ceremony, CATA President Jason Bennett brought awareness to the fact that California currently remains the only state in the nation that doesn’t regulate athletic training.

“Anyone––regardless of education and certification–– can act as an athletic trainer and treat serious injuries with potentially dire consequences,” he said. “For the sake of our children, this needs to end now.”

Bennett added that the CATA and Assemblymember Matt Debabneh recently introduced legislation AB-1510, which would require licensure for athletic trainers in California.

“Beyond saving a life, Pat and Tori changed the lives of many,” State Senator Janet Nguyen said at the event. “As a parent, I can understand the deep sense of gratitude that the Venegas family has for Pat and Tori. As a neighbor to Golden West College, I am thankful to know that we have great staff and students that go beyond the call of duty to serve others. And as a believer in humanity, I am comforted in knowing that kindness and goodwill are among us.”

#AT4ALLPreventionSudden Cardiac Death

Oklahoma Athletic Trainer Hailed Hero After Saving Referee

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Article reposted from News9.com
Author: KARL TORP

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

An athletic trainer in Harrah is being hailed a hero for coming to the aid of a referee who collapsed on the field.

It happened during the second overtime of a district soccer match between Harrah High School and Classen SAS Tuesday night.

“He didn’t trip, He didn’t fall, he just collapsed and I need to be there,” said Harrah athletic Geoff Hargis about what was going through his mind.

Hargis immediately started performing CPR and was aided by two parents from Classen. One happened to be a cardiologist.

“We were doing compressions and he’d take a breath, but we couldn’t get a solid pulse on him,” said Hargis.

Paramedics would soon arrive, as Hargis and others witnessed the man regain consciousness.

“Very relieved,” said Hargis.

But all anxiety wouldn’t be gone until Wednesday morning, when Hargis got a chance to speak with the referee.

“It was good to hear him talk in knowing that we were successful in keeping him alive,” said Hargis.

Due to budget constraints, athletic trainers are not always available for games.

Harrah’s athletic director is thankful the referee got help so quickly.

“We appreciate Geoff, but we appreciate all the athletic directors all over country that do what they do,” said Athletic Director Guy Worth.

PreventionSecondary SchoolSudden Cardiac Death

New Jersey Athletic Trainers Honored for Life Saving Efforts

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Article reposted from Burlington County Times
Author:

Friday, Feb. 17, started out as a normal day for Cherokee High School teacher Janet Pulverenti.

Her students had a half-day, and she was on her way to the school’s Performing Arts Center to complete some afternoon professional development with fellow teachers and staff members.

But as Pulverenti entered the room, her heart started beating quickly. She went into cardiac arrest and fell unconscious.

Luckily, four co-workers did more than just call 911. They also used CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to revive Pulverenti in only about three minutes.

“Without them, I would not be here,” she said. “The doctors made it very clear to me that I shouldn’t be here.”

Head athletic trainer Jeff Wood, assistant athletic trainer Karen Hengst, paraprofessional Gary Denelsbeck and nurse-paraprofessional Felicia Progar were all honored as heroes at the Lenape Regional Board of Education meeting on Wednesday.

After Pulverenti went into cardiac arrest, staff members began calling 911 and using school radios to alert administrators, Superintendent Carol Birnbohm said. Denelsbeck and Progar, who were in the room, immediately began performing CPR.

“We had basketball practice going on,” said Hengst, who was in the gymnasium with Wood when they heard the calls over the radio.

The two, who are certified athletic trainers, quickly grabbed the AED and used it to shock Pulverenti’s heart. She regained consciousness almost immediately.

“The AED is what gave (Janet) her life,” Wood said.

Pulverenti said it was incredible that colleagues came from different parts of the building to come to her aid.

All involved expressed gratitude that they were in the right place at the right time.

Pulverenti, a teacher in the district for 14 years, said her husband and six children were equally grateful.

“I can’t express my gratitude enough,” she told the four after they received plaques and resolutions from the school board. “Thank you for my life.”

Birnbohm said she hopes the story of quick action and training will inspire others to invest in AEDs and train people about their effectiveness.

“Not only are we honoring you, but perhaps this story might make someone become more aware of the location of the AEDs in their building or community,” she said. “And just maybe, because someone heard your story, you will be responsible for saving more lives.”

PreventionSecondary SchoolSudden Cardiac Death

Athletic trainers, AEDs called vital after teen’s life saved

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Article reposted from Edge Radio
Author: Ryan O’Leary

Robin Hunt understands the praise and attention she’s received the past two weeks. She just doesn’t want people calling her a hero.

Hunt will be the first to tell you: She was simply doing her job on Monday, Feb. 20, when a junior varsity basketball game that seemed like countless other junior varsity basketball games suddenly went terribly, terribly wrong.

Rhys Daigle, a 14-year-old freshman from Nute High School, was spotted by one of the referees in the third quarter and the game at Epping was stopped. Daigle seemed to be wobbly and looked pale, so the officials removed him from the game and the boy took a seat on the bench. Hunt, Epping’s personal athletic trainer through Access Sports Medicine, hurried over to check on him.

“I sat with him on the bench and he was just super pale, super dizzy,” said Hunt, a Hampton native who graduated from Winnacunnet High School in 2010, “and then he just fainted. He just passed out right on me.”

Hunt brought Daigle down to the ground, as two men — one an off-duty EMT, the other off-duty Epping police officer A.J. Towle — rushed over from the stands to assist. But they lost the boy’s pulse as he laid there on the basketball court, and it was Hunt who quickly retrieved the school’s automated external defibrillator (AED) and placed it on the boy’s chest.

“You just hope that it sticks on (his chest) and turn it on,” Hunt said of that moment, “and you hope that it doesn’t have to shock. But when it says ‘shock’ — that’s real.

“‘This machine right here is actually going to save this kid’s life, hopefully,'” she remembers thinking. “You don’t ever think you’re going to see that. It’s scary.”

The AED shocked Daigle twice before a pulse returned. He was breathing on his own again when help arrived to transport him first to Exeter Hospital, and then to Boston by helicopter.

It was learned later that Daigle had an unknown heart condition. Ironically, Hunt did her entire graduate thesis on unknown heart conditions and sudden death in high school athletes.

“That was my last two years of research,” she said of her studies down in Tennessee, “and then here I am, doing it right there.

Hunt was there.

That might be the real miracle in this story, that a school as small as Epping not only had an AED stationed in its gymnasium, but that it has its own athletic trainer who knew where to find it and how to use it when crisis struck.

Personal athletic trainers are not the norm for the smaller New Hampshire schools. Out of the state’s 88 schools in the New Hampshire Athletic Association, 29 do not have an athletic trainer listed in the NHIAA Handbook.

Most will use the per diem approach, bringing in trainers on a game-by-game basis. Some don’t use trainers at all, relying instead on EMTs or coaches, who are required by the NHIAA to be trained in both CPR and First Aid.

“The per diem thing, I would say it’s in the category of being better than nothing,” said Mike Feld, who works out of Marsh Brook Rehab in Somersworth and has been Oyster River’s athletic trainer for 14 years. “There’s also something to be said about having a relationship with the athletes, the coaches, the parents. Having them trust in your knowledge and your skills, trust in your recommendations … as opposed to some random person that shows up twice a week on game days that you really don’t have that relationship with.

Feld continues: “A concussion, a head injury, how the athlete is acting, their personality, is a big part of kind of seeing what’s wrong. If I have no idea how they are normally, I have nothing to compare that to.”

Generally, it comes down to budget, and the high cost of AEDs (which can run into the thousands) is another important part of the story. The state has evolved enough over the past couple years that almost all schools have at least one AED on site. But where? How accessible is it? And in a situation like Epping’s, will there always be somebody there, trained and ready to take immediate action?

“The smaller schools where it’s really not that important yet, who knows?” said Mikaela Harding, who’s in her third year as Winnacunnet’s athletic trainer. “They might not have an AED, and it would take a death or something really bad to happen for them to institute that rule of having one.

“When have we ever seen something like that happening in the New England area? You haven’t. So I think everyone always thinks, like anything in life, ‘It’s never going to happen to me, never going to happen at my school.’ So it’s really eye-opening to know that it could happen anywhere and we always need to be prepared for it.”

Each March, the NATA celebrates National Athletic Training Month, which is a movement that helps spread awareness on the important work that athletic trainers are doing, from the schools to the colleges and pros. Their 2017 slogan is “Your Protection Is Our Priority.”

“I think it’s important,” Access Sports Medicine and Exeter AT Heidi Kirby said. “I’ve been at Exeter 15 years and there’s still people who don’t know what I do. These parents come in and they’re like ‘Well, who are you?'”

It’s part of the struggle that athletic trainers face on a daily basis. It’s a job that taxes the social life, requiring long hours, nights and weekends. More often than not, the job’s a whole lot less exciting than what Hunt encountered on Feb. 20.

“The goal is to do nothing,” Portsmouth High School AT Ryan Dolan put it, “but be ready for anything.”

The crux of the job, aside from counselling, stretching and rehab, is recognizing when an athlete is seriously hurt or in trouble, and when an athlete can safely be treated and put back into a game.

“I’d like people to know that we’re here to care for their children,” Kirby said. “We’re here on the sidelines. We give care that’s equal to what they’re going to get at the college level, sometimes the pro levels.

“We’re there to help. We’re not there to hurt, and if I can keep a kid playing I’m going to keep a kid playing — safely.”

But as we’ve seen here and throughout the country, particularly when the fall high school teams return to the field under the blazing summer sun, things can turn from safe to serious in a heartbeat.

“It’s interesting because you start to think of it as just your daily job, you show up, you do what you do, wrap up a couple kids, and that’s it,” said Taylor Brown, an Exeter grad who’s now the AT at Sanborn Regional. “But the potential for something more is always there. Things like this are kind of a reminder of that.”

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With the schools on vacation this week, Hunt had some time Tuesday to visit Boston Children’s Hospital, where she officially met Daigle for the first time.

“He’s doing well,” Hunt said. “He was sleeping. His dad woke him up.

“He just said ‘Thanks for saving my life.’ And then he went back to sleep. But I’ll take it. That’s all I need.”

Most of the athletic trainers we see at games throughout the Seacoast have never encountered a situation so dire. But they can all find comfort in the fact that they’re trained professionals, that in the case of an emergency, like if a 14-year-old boy is laid down on the basketball court and his heart stops, that there’s a process in place that can save a life.

Hunt was there. Next time, it could be any one of her peers.

“Something like this happens and you kind of think, Do I know?” Dolan said. “What would I do? How would I handle it? And do I have everything with me that I would need to handle a situation with a young kid? It’s good it happened the way it did with (Hunt), but it’s good for everybody else locally to kind of remember and go through their training one more time, in hopes that it happens that way again.”

“It’s great that she was there,” Kirby added of Hunt. “It’s such a small school. It’s just another example as to why, even if you’re a small school, to find it in your budget to at least have a per diem, if not a part-timer, because it could happen at any contest and it could be anything.”

 

PreventionSudden Cardiac Death

Pennsylvania athletic trainer saves teen’s life at lacrosse camp

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Article reposted from The Morning Call
Author: Sarah M. Wojcik

It’s a scene all athletic trainers and coaching staffs train for, but one they never hope to see: an athlete collapses, unresponsive.

During a lacrosse camp Sunday at DeSales University, a 17-year-old boy from Montvale, N.J., fell in a heap on the ground. Staff rushed to his side; among them Catasauqua Area School District athletic trainer John Capozzolo.

He saw the teen collapse face-first from the corner of his eye. He and a colleague tore off the teen’s helmet and pads. Immediately, he could tell the teen’s breathing had stopped and his pulse was undetectable. Capozzolo wasted no time.

“I kind of just went into a zone,” the trainer said Friday. “I heard nothing around me other than the people right next to me. Everything in my head was playing in order, like in a book.”

Capozzolo, in his 13th year at Catasauqua , was at the event to help with staff shortages. He started CPR and delegated. He asked Matthew Brancaccio, head lacrosse coach at DeSales, to fetch an automated external defibrillator and had another trainer call 911.

PreventionSecondary SchoolSudden Cardiac Death

Athletic trainers jump into action to save student’s life

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Article reposted from Fox 29 San Antonio
Author: Darlene Dorsey

Last week, MacArthur High School athletic trainer –Chad Sutherland had to jump into action.

“This was my first and hopefully my last to every use It,” said Sutherland.

He and another trainer, Jeff Schmidt, worked together to use an automated external defibrillator went a student lost consciousness, last Tuesday.

They worked quickly to help resuscitate the high school junior who they said had no known history of heart issues.

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Sutherland says the student with doing typical drills with other students outside.

When he returned to the building, he had difficulty breathing and collapsed, said Sutherland.

When they opened the AED case, the trainers also immediately dialed 9-1-1 to get EMS on the way.

The AED uses voice commands to help you know what to do.

“You can see it’s telling you where to place each pad,” said Schmidt.

Sutherland hopes others won’t be afraid to get basic CPR training to help someone in a medical emergency.

Chad Sutherland, “If this was your brother or sister or mom or dad, you would want to act so if someone is having problems you would want to help them out as well.”

SAFD Fire Chief Charles Hood will stop by MacArthur high school Tuesday to thank the trainers. He considers them heroes.

The chief says AED or automatic external defibrillators are in many public places like schools, airports, malls or stadiums.

“about 350-thousand people suffer heart attacks every single year,” Hood said.

He hopes others will consider basic CPR training to know how to use an AED. It takes just four minutes he says, for someone in cardiac arrest to lose oxygen to the brain.

But knowing how to use the device, until medical professionals arrive, could help save a life.

“It can happen at any age.

Anywhere. It can happen anytime. What this does is turn an everyday person into a hero because you’re going to be able to follow directions,” said Chief Hood.

The American Red Cross and American Heart Association of San Antonio have information about training to help you know how to use the automated external defibrillator.

PreventionSecondary SchoolSudden Cardiac Death

Texas Athletic Trainers Use AED to Revive Football Player on Field

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Article reposted from KENS5
Author: James Keith

Parents send their children to school every day assuming they’ll return home. But that didn’t happen Tuesday for the family of a MacArthur High School football player who briefly lost his life on campus.

Brianna Major will never forget the phone call she received about her brother, Kenny Major.

“They told me they just had to do CPR on him and I lost it,” Brianna recalled.

Kenny collapsed on the football field. The details were hard for her to hear.

“His heart did stop. He wasn’t breathing. They did have to revive him,” Brianna said as she held back tears.

MacArthur trainers Chad Sutherland and Jeffrey Schmidt are used to seeing students injured or sick, not dead.

“It got real pretty quick when I came out here and Coach Sutherland had already begun compressions and I knew he wasn’t breathing just by looking at him. He was already becoming pale,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt grabbed an AED. Using the device and providing multiple rounds of CPR brought Kenny back to life.

“I kind of feel like I was floating outside of myself and just doing all the procedures and everything we had been taught,” Sutherland said.

“There was a brief time my brother was gone, and not just from me and my family, but from this world. It was the worst pain I ever felt,” Brianna said.

Kenny is now recovering in the hospital. To his sister, the two and the coaches who helped her brother are heroes.

“I don’t feel like a hero. I feel like that’s what I’m trained to do and what I went to school for, why I do what I do,” Schmidt said.

“I don’t feel like a hero, I just did my job,” Sutherland said.

“When the emergency happened, our guys did what they’re trained to do and they saved this young man’s life,” said Ben Cook, MacArthur’s head football coach.

Brianna has this advice for everyone who hears her brother’s story:

“No matter what happened, no matter what your sibling ruined in your personal mind, make sure they know you love them,” she said.

Parents of high school athletes wanting to have their child’s heart screened have an opportunity this weekend. August Hearts will conduct screenings at Alamo Stadium on Saturday.

PreventionSecondary SchoolSudden Cardiac Death

California High School Athletic Trainer leads team in life-saving effort

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Article reposted from The San Diego Union Tribune
Author: Elizabeth Marie Himchak

Two hours before last Friday’s basketball games, Rancho Bernardo High’s head athletic trainer, Robbie Bowers, reviewed with his team its emergency protocols.

They do the review frequently so — on the rare occasion their skills might be needed — they are ready to act, he said.

The fourth quarter of the boys game against Westview became that rare occasion.

“I heard a commotion going on and my wife sitting nearby yelled something to me,” he said. “I started to rip my jacket off and went up (the bleachers).”

Robbie Bowers
Robbie Bowers (Courtesy photo)

There he found a Westview staff member’s grandparent — Rancho Bernardo resident Bill Parkhurst — in medical distress, which Bowers said he identified as cardiac arrest.

“I immediately started chest compressions, my intern from SDSU brought the defibrillator and my athletic trainer prepped his chest,” Bowers said on Monday when asked to recall the incident. Among others who stepped in to help was Westview’s athletic trainer, Christina Scherr.

Parkhurst had been sitting on the bleachers’ top tier with the wall behind him, so that was the perfect spot to perform the lifesaving actions, Bowers said, adding it would have been difficult to move him.

An automatic external defibrillator — AED for short — indicates if the person needs to be shocked to get the heart going. It indicated a shock was needed and after the AED applied electricity to the man’s body Bowers said he began chest compressions again. After 30 seconds, Parkhurst started to show signs of life, making sounds and, when asked, was able to correctly say his first name.

As all this was going on, another staff member called 911 and additional staffers went to the two campus entrances to meet paramedics and direct them to the correct venue, Bowers said.

Bowers, who is certified in medical procedures through the National Athletic Trainers Association, said there is a difference between sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack. He said the latter is triggered by a blockage in the heart’s arteries and in many cases the person does not lose consciousness. In sudden cardiac arrest the heart stops, the person loses consciousness and if the heart is not returned to a normal rhythm the person could die within minutes.

In his three decades in the field (27 years at RB High), Bowers said this is the second time he has been called into action like this. The first was about 10 years ago while at a game in Riverside. In that case the man had an extensive history of heart attacks and cardiac disease, and an AED was not available. “The ref died doing what he loved,” Bowers said.

This time, the result was dramatically different. Bowers said he heard through a third-party that the man is hospitalized but doing well, and that night his family told Bowers that his swift efforts “appear to have saved his life.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Barbara Jean Parkhurst said her husband was undergoing surgery. She said she had not wanted her husband of more than six decades to attend the game, but is now glad he did because if he had collapsed at home the outcome might have been different. She credits Bowers and the others with saving his life.

While trained in how to use an AED, Bowers said this was his first time to deliver a shock. He said it is so simple even someone without training could do it.

“It turned out (using an AED) was exactly like we trained,” Bowers said. “It’s that easy. You do not have to be specially trained.”

He said RB High has three AEDs — one in the nurse’s office, another at the pool’s lifeguard tower and a third in the gym, near his office, which due to protocol he takes to games, keeping it nearby just in case.

“(Robbie) and his team’s response was perfect,” said RB High Principal Dave LeMaster. “They basically saved a life. … I was impressed to see them in action.”

Bowers said because of their frequent protocol reviews everyone knew what role they had so the rescue was “seamless.” However, Bowers said he couldn’t sleep that night and he reviewed the situation repeatedly to see what they could do better in the future. The team has also discussed its efforts.

“We could improve on crowd control, because it was a little bit of an issue hearing the prompts,” Bowers said, adding he was so focused on what he was doing that he did not realize the game was stopped. “But we did have a lot of support in maintaining modesty of the patient.”

He added, “Every experience is a learning opportunity. I’m very proud of (my team’s) response.”