WTOC Hometown Heroes: SEHS coaches and athletic staff

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Practice is for preparation and preparation can win a game. But last month at South Effingham High School, preparation saved a student's life.

"It was just really, really neat to see how everything worked," SEHS Athletics Director Jeff Faith said of the reaction to a recent emergency at the school. "For us, it's a God thing. But everyone was just in the right place at the right time."

The boys' soccer team was on the field doing conditioning on December 12 when one player collapsed while running. Five coaches, two parents, the athletic trainer and athletics director all assumed critical roles.

"I got a call on the radio saying they needed the trainer on the practice field," said Faith. "They had a kid fall."

Faith called for the athletic trainer, John Burk, who got to the practice field quickly.

"When I arrived, I noticed he wasn't breathing well, if at all," said Burk. "I checked his pulse and he didn't have a pulse, so called 911, sent some people to get the AED and started CPR right away."

"It happened extremely quickly," added boys' soccer coach, Matt Hunnewell, "and even people who shouldn't have been in that area happened to be in the right place at the right time."

Burk estimates CPR was started within a minute of when the student collapsed and that the AED arrived in less than three minutes. Having the AED equipment in place enabled the staff to work as quickly as they did.

"They're invaluable," Burk said of AEDs. "They're an absolute necessity if you're out here doing the work I do."

Medical professionals have told the school that the actions of the staff, these WTOC Hometown Heroes, saved the student's life.

"God had everyone where they needed to be," said assistant girls' soccer coach, Kim Morgan, who was on the practice field that day and helped keep other players calm during the situation. "Everyone did what they needed to and thankfully we had a fantastic outcome."

"We're just proud," added Faith, "that we did what we could do to help that kid and that's really what it's about."

The student returned to school with classmate Tuesday and will continue to be in his teammates' thoughts when the soccer season starts in a couple of weeks.

"He'll be with us in whatever capacity he can be," said Hunnewell. "I've already given him that option. He wants to play and we'll just see where it goes from there."

"It's just nice to know," added Burk, "that all the tests were negative and he's back to his normal self."

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