Jan 27, 2020
Iowa athletic trainer helps save referee during basketball game

A high school athletic trainer last week helped save the life of a referee, who collapsed during a basketball game after suffering a heart attack.

Cadillac Area Public Schools athletic trainer Brandon Parcell told the Cadillac News he was preparing varsity players for their upcoming game when the school’s athletic director signaled him into the gym. Dale Westdorp, who was officiating a girls junior varsity game, had just collapsed but was still conscious when Parcell arrived on the scene.

Cadillac Area Public Schools athletic director Fred Bryant told the newspaper that he immediately called 911 and went to grab the AED from the hallway. After several bystanders helped move Westdorp off of the floor, he began to lose consciousness. It took two shocks from the AED to bring him back.

From the Cadillac News:

“The decision is from all of the training we do. When you’re certified in first air or the AED/CPR stuff, you just go through your checklist. When we got him on the ground, we’re not feeling a pulse and you’re not hearing the heart beat too much, that’s when it just clicks.”

While the staff worked to revive Westdorp, the teams were moved back to their locker rooms. The game eventually resumed after he was taken to the hospital by ambulance. On Monday, Westdorp was reportedly in stable condition.

A study published last year in the Journal of Athletic Training found that 21% of Iowa high schools do not have access to an athletic trainer. Luckily, Cadillac Area Public Schools is not among them.

   » RELATED: Study highlights the value of AEDs at sporting events

“We want every parent, coach, and school administrator to know that there is a highly trained health care professional looking after their kid’s health and safety when they are participating in sports,” Iowa Athletic Trainers’ Society president Brad Floy said in December after the study’s release. “We hope to one day see 100% of school districts in the state of Iowa have someone present whose sole purpose is student-athlete welfare.”

Emergencies like these are a good example of why it’s critical that school districts have an athletic trainer. And it’s not just to protect student-athletes, but also coaches, referees and spectators.

Read more about this story from the Cadillac News.

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