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Friday, January 26, 2018

Middle School Coaches Save Life of Student-Athlete

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A day of afternoon recreation at Danny Jones Middle School turned into a terrifying moment last Friday after one of the players passed out on the football field.

“I didn’t think anything of it. I thought he just slipped and fell,” said eighth-grader Nathan Bennett. “But then he wasn’t responding, so we called the coaches over.”

A nearby coach had already noticed Jeffrey Cotton on the ground and knew something was not right.

“I immediately began checking for any vitals,” said Shawn Alsup, a teacher and coach at the school. “I was tapping him on the cheek and said, ‘Hey, Jeffrey. Jeffrey, can you hear me? Jeffrey, can you hear me?' And I wasn’t getting anything.”

That’s when the coaches sprang into action. David Sawyer rushed to call 9-1-1, Stephen Varcardipone alerted the crisis team, Shawn Alsup started conducting CPR chest compressions and Edward King ran in to get the automated external defibrillator (AED) in hopes of regaining the student’s vital signs.

Coaches routinely visited Cotton in the hospital.
The coaches said everyone seamlessly worked together to revive the 13-year-old.

The school nurse later helped to administer the AED, and the students blocked off traffic and guided the ambulance to the field.

“He was not with us,” said Coach King. “It shocked him, and his chest jumped, and Coach Alsup went back to compressions again. So it was like, ‘Is this machine going to work?’ And it gave him another shock. I think at that point, we started to feel the pulse.”

The ambulance arrived and transported Cotton to a local hospital. Doctors said the quick thinking of everyone involved is what helped save the eighth-grader’s life.

It’s something that Coach Sawyer said is making him more grateful for Mansfield ISD’s annual trainings that all coaches must attend.

“We have to give a shoutout to the district,” Sawyer added. “We are all well trained in AED use, CPR and first aid. We kind of scoff at it, and this is one of those times when you say, “I’ll never scoff at it again.’”

Sawyer said Cotton is recovering well. The student successfully underwent surgery to implant a defibrillator for is enlarged heart. Coaches said they are glad he is getting back to his normal self.