Brown Athletic Trainers Help To Save a Life

March 24, 2003

Brown's certified athletic trainers work with athletes each and every day, treating and rehabilitating injuries, and administering to a variety of strains, sprains, and fractures. Seldom are they called on to actually save a life.

While watching the Brown's women's basketball team play Princeton at the Pizzitola Center on February 14th, Brown certified athletic trainers Gail Connolly and Kathleen Quinn noticed a commotion behind the Princeton bench. Sensing a medical problem, Connolly and Quinn went over to see if there was anything they could do to help.

Brown women's basketball athletic trainer, Kerry Antunes, and Princeton athletic trainer, Cheri Drysdale, were already on the scene attending to the grandfather of Princeton player Allison Cahill. Cahill's grandfather was unconscious, had difficulty breathing, and had a faint pulse.

Connolly recognized the potential for cardiac arrest and sprinted for the automated external defibrillator (AED) that had recently been installed at the Pizzitola Sports Center for an emergency situation. The AED can analyze a patient's heart rhythm, advise whether a shock is indicated, and deliver a shock in an attempt to restore a regular heartbeat. When Connolly left to get the AED, Antunes and Drysdale continued to monitor the grandfather's vital signs.

Kathleen Quinn connected the electrodes as the man's pulse stopped. The AED advised a shock, and a shock was given. The shock worked, and the grandfather's pulse returned, but, he still wasn't breathing. Drysdale gave him two rescue breaths and he began to regain consciousness. At that time, the Brown EMT's took over and transported him to Rhode Island Hospital for additional evaluation and treatment. Cahill's grandfather has since been transferred to another hospital, and he is still very much alive.

"It is a euphoric feeling bringing someone back to life," said Connolly. "We couldn't have done it without the proper tool-the AED machine-to get the job done. We used our instincts and our training."

While quick thinking from certified athletic trainers was the most important factor in saving the man's life, the AED machines were part of an athletic department plan to give all of its staff the necessary tools to respond to those in cardiac arrest.

Brown Athletic Director, David Roach had AED kits installed in all of the athletic facilities at the urging of Frank George, Brown's Director of Sports Medicine, and Russ Fiore, the Head Athletic Trainer. The $20,000 cost involved purchasing the equipment, installing the machines in a secure, but public location, and training for its entire athletic staff by David Marquis of the Lifespan Community Center. The effort and resources were well worth the cost of saving just one life.

Recipients of AED machines were the Pizzitola Sports Center, Meehan Auditorium, Olney Margolies Athletic Center, Smith Swim Center, and the Marston Boathouse. Brown University purchased two additional AEDs for the athletic trainers and coaching staff to use at practices and games.