It started out as a normal day of Warren G. Harding High School varsity football practice on Thurs., Sept. 5. Yet, the afternoon ended with quite an unforgettable experience for the coaches, players and staff who witnessed an incident that could’ve ended in tragedy.
A fight broke out among a small group of children playing near the stadium with less than 30 minutes of practice remaining. The incident was unrelated to the football practice. An assistant coach witnessed the altercation, which resulted in a child getting punched and seemingly going unconscious.
“The young man was down on the ground and not moving, and his breathing was becoming delayed,” said Steve Arnold, Harding head football coach.
“There is no doubt in my mind that these 2 trainers saved that young man’s life,” Arnold said. “Those two individuals worked as a team, and you would have thought they have done this many times before.”
CPR training comes in handy
Alex has maintained training and certification in CPR/AED in the form of Basic Life Saver certification for the past 14 years. He’d never had to perform emergency CPR or use an automated external defibrillator (AED) before this event occurred.
“Initially when his breathing and heart stopped I felt fear, but I didn’t really think about him not making it,” McCaskey said.
Without hesitation, Alex and Shamara performed CPR, taking turns breathing life into the child and performing chest compressions. It took about 12-15 minutes – which seemed like much longer to onlookers – for paramedics to show up and take over.
“I think my mind was most focused on performing CPR and getting the AED attached. After the AED shocked him and his heart began beating, I remember feeling fear that he still wasn’t breathing,” Alex said. “I was worried from that point until later when the ambulance drivers came back to return my AED and told me that he was alive and stable.”
Across the Mahoning Valley, Akron Children’s Hospital athletic trainers at many local schools spend their days consulting with coaches, providing medical assistance and evaluating whether student-athletes are ready for practice or game time. They’re very engaged, and their hands-on approach was evident during practice that fateful September day.
Right person in the right place at right time
“It was very lucky for the events to unfold the way they did,” Alex said. “Had I been at another place or a few minutes later it could have turned out differently. I am just glad I was there when I was.
“My student, Shamara, also acted well beyond her experience in reacting to the emergency, and her actions were vital to things turning out as well as they did.”
Both the Warren City School District and Akron Children’s Hospital are proud of the quick-thinking actions of the 2 trainers.
“We have much love and respect for Alex and Shamara,” Coach Arnold said.
The boy is doing well today, and his mother was thankful for the trainers’ selfless actions.
“The mother called me the day the child was taken off the ventilator and able to breath on his own,” Alex said. “The child then came a few weeks later to a football game for us to officially meet.”