Friends help save Sonoma teen’s life after cardiac arrest, collapse on basketball court
When a 17-year-old Sonoma teenager collapsed in cardiac arrest on June 15, the quick thinking of his friends likely kept him alive.
“They did everything they could possibly do,” said Fire Chief Steve Akre, of the Sonoma Valley Fire Department. “They did everything right.”
Around 8:30 p.m., the teens were playing basketball at the outdoor courts at Sonoma Valley High School’s athletic complex, when one of the players fell to the ground. He wasn’t breathing, his heart came to a stop. Brain death could start within 5 minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic — time was of the essence.
“His friend immediately started CPR,” said Akre.
Another friend called 911. One teen sprinted across the court to grab an automated external defibrillator (AED), which can help restart a heart in cardiac arrest.
“They used the AED right away,“ Akre said.
At 17, the teens had likely been trained on CPR at Sonoma Valley High. It is part of the P.E. curriculum, although the teens are not officially certified. (Students who waive P.E. must prove they are CPR certified, however.)
Within minutes, an ambulance arrived on campus. A Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter crew happened to be patrolling Petaluma when the call came in. They headed east, landing on the basketball courts, near the patient.
“[First responders] got pulses back while they worked on him at the school,” Akre said.
Akre said helicopters save valuable time in transporting cardiac arrest cases, when quick care is essential. The teen, who is not being identified because of his age, was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment. He remained hospitalized on Monday.
First responders praised the teen’s friends for staying focused and calm during the emergency situation.
“Outstanding work by these teenagers to not only think quickly, but to also remain calm which ultimately helped save their friend’s life,“ the Sonoma County Sheriff Department posted on social media.
The AED machine used by the teens was installed in March, part of a partnership with the Just1Mike Foundation, making it one of five such life-saving devices located around the high school campus.
“We are already planning to have a ribbon cutting in August for this particular AED tower, so to see that the unit has already been used to effectively to save the life of one of our own young people, frankly, leaves me speechless,” said Superintendent Dr. Adrian Palazuelos. He added that the AED “is fully accessible to the public, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
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