Prompt action by coaches, parents and police likely saved the life of a C. Milton Wright High School girls basketball player who suffered a life-threatening event during Thursday night's home game against St. Paul's.
The player was resuscitated by coaches and others after collapsing and was rushed to a local hospital, where she was reported to be in good condition by Friday afternoon.
According to Mustangs Head Coach Marvin Evans, the player stopped breathing and CPR was performed on the court, successfully reviving her. The game did not resume, he said.
Harford County Sheriff's Office spokesman Eddie Hopkins said Friday afternoon that the preliminary report from Deputy First Class Michael Kahlid, who was at the scene, indicated the player may have suffered a seizure. The Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company's Facebook Page reported the player had gone into cardiac arrest and was initially revived by a Maryland State Police trooper.
According to a summary of the preliminary Sheriff's Office incident report, which was provided by Hopkins, "...at 7:17 p.m. sheriff's deputies were working a security detail at C. Milton Wright High School, 1301 N. Fountain Green Road, Bel Air, when they observed the women's basketball team in a huddle near the far side of the gymnasium. The deputy walked over to their location and witnessed a 17-year-old, 12th grade student lying on the floor with the coach, her mother and the athletic trainer kneeling over her."
"It was initially reported that the victim may have fallen backward off a chair and it was believed she may have suffered a head injury," the summary continued. "At the time deputies said it appeared she was having a seizure. As the ambulance was being requested the deputy heard someone say she had stopped breathing and had no pulse."
"CPR was began and someone was sent to retrieve the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). A Maryland State Police trooper at scene utilized the AED and shocked the patient. CPR was continued. Paramedics from the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company arrived and continued advanced life support and transported the victim to the Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. Police were later informed that she had been revived and was in stable condition," the summary concluded.
"It appears the AED conversion was initially successful," Hopkins wrote in a follow-up e-mail. "However, her pulse would start and stop. CPR was resumed and continued as the medic unit arrived and assumed care of the patient."
Citing information from the trooper who was first on the scene, the fire company's Facebook page states: "[The trooper] who was first arriving on the scene, advised he had shocked the patient with an AED three times prior to the BAVFC's arrival and had gotten a pulse back briefly before it dissipated. The patient was shocked once again by BAVFC responders, CPR was started, and the patient was loaded for transport shortly thereafter. While en route to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center the patient showed signs of a strong pulse and began breathing on her own. Her alert status continued to further improve during transport. Upon arrival at the hospital, the patient was speaking and answering simple questions, while responding and reacting to the doctors and nurses."
The preliminary police incident report also states that "several deputies and medical personnel assisted in traffic control during the incident."
Lindsay Bilodeau, communications specialist with Harford County Public Schools, said Friday morning that "coaches trained in CPR, as well as parents/nurses in attendance, immediately assisted the player in crisis."
"The CPR was administered and the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) unit was used to stabilize the student," Bilodeau wrote in an e-mail, adding: "All of our schools in Harford County are equipped with AED units for this purpose."
"We are grateful for the outstanding and immediate responses by the coaches, parents, Harford County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police and Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, all of whom were instrumental in helping to save the student's life," Bilodeau said. "Our thoughts are with the student for a full recovery."
State Police TFC. Adam Davies, an EMT for 12 years, said he took charge of the initial resuscitation efforts when he walked in to find confusion among the roughly 10 adults gathered around the girl.
"They had cleared the gym out, so the only people in there were the coaches, athletic director, I think a couple of parents and the deputies," Davies said. "It was just utter confusion and chaos."
Davies came to the gym when he heard of the incident on the radio. A deputy assigned to the game was already there.
"Someone was hooking up an AED when I got there," he explained. "Basically, because it appeared as if there was a lot of confusion and a lot of chaos going on, I have been an EMT for a while so I kind of just took charge to make sure everyone knew what they were doing and doing what needed to be done," he said.
After Davies checked for a pulse and delivered a shock, "she had a real strong pulse" and Davies began checking for other issues.
But then she "showed signs that her condition was deteriorating. Then I found she had lost her pulse," he said.
"Prior to me kind of stepping up, I think people just weren't sure what to do," he said. "Then you have the emotional side of it, because it was a 17-year-old girl, because it was so unexpected."
Davies said it was "kind of a neat thing" to know that he was so instrumental in helping to save her life, but also said it was a team effort.
"Obviously everyone being there and working together was probably the biggest thing," he said. "Everybody was pretty responsive when I asked for something. It worked perfectly. Everyone came together."
Davies said the incident shows that having an AED there "makes a huge difference." He said waiting for an AED from the fire department would probably have meant the difference between the girl being alive or not.
"I think it's a prime example of the fact that you have the early identification of the problem and the people that have the knowledge to address the problem," he said.
Citing federal HIPAA regulations, Bilodeau said she could not release the name of the student or information regarding her medical condition or status.
Hopkins, who is also chief of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, said the incident "drives home the point for prompt intervention with CPR and AED devices."
"Early cardiac intervention – CPR/AED – results in a greater chance of resuscitating the patient," Hopkins said.