Thursday, August 20, 2009

My son's story -- Part 2

Continuing from above:

Here is what I have been able to piece together from various people who had been at the school during the race....the stuff I didn't see happen.

The team was supposed to run a new, different course that would have sent them on a big loop of the campus with only a single opportunity to see the runners after the start before they returned for the finish... the rains before the race caused the coaches to decide to use the "old" course which keeps them fairly close to the parents and coaches. This would prove to be the first link in my son's incredible luck chain...had they run the "new" course, he would not have been seen or had the chance for as quick of a response from the trainers, etc.

A part-time landscaper came in on his off day to make sure the path in the woods was clear of debris and to groom any part of the trail that had been impacted by the recent rains - no one asked him to do it but he didn't want any of the boys to get hurt on "his" trail so he came in on Saturday just to make sure....this landscaper, having finished his work for the morning, was in his cart ready to drive back to the Physical Plant building and wash up to go home...his normal route back was blocked by the parents and some of the runners who had already finished the race, so he decided not to disturb them and he turned the other way to go into the woods to take the much longer route on the path.

He saw a runner ahead of him as he turned into the woods and he called out that he was passing on the left...the runner moved over a little and the landscaper passed him....this runner was obviously my son...after he passed my son, he turned in his seat to look back over his shoulder....he didn't hear a sound....he didn't sense any danger or distress...he simply turned back to look at the runner he had passed - at that very moment, my son had his heart attack and fell sideways to the right, down the steep bank of the creek, headfirst between two large chunks of ragged concrete and a big tree into a pile of brush right above the creek.

The landscaper turned his cart around, yelled for help, got to my son to try and pull him up but he was down too far and wedged in, so the landscaper called 911 and ran out of the woods still yelling for help. This was clearly the second link in the chain....had he not come in that morning, had he not decided to be a nice man and not disturb the parents by the normal exit...had he not entered the woods when he did...had he not turned to watch my son one would have known what had happened until it was too late.

His calls for help were heard by 3 boys, two current members of the team and a third who had graduated but was there to watch....they sprinted into the woods and saw my son in his precarious position and tried to pull him up....a fourth boy ran in and called 911 as well and then ran back out to get help from the coach, who then yelled for the trainers and they all went into the woods.....the boys couldn't get him up because the bank was muddy and very steep, and he was about 6-7 feet below them.

Another person, a parent, had heard the calls and entered the woods about 20 seconds behind the luck would have it, this parent was a renowned general surgeon (whose son was the senior captain and one of the boys trying to pull my son up the bank) who, without hesitation, leaped from the bank all the way down into the pile of brush below my son and started carrying him by the shoulders up the bank, with the runners lifting his legs. They were able to extricate him from his awkward position and lay him on the trail. The parent/doctor then began to do chest compressions and direct the just-arrived trainers to get the AED up and running. This was the third link.....had he not been there or close enough to hear the cries for help, my son would have most likely died in the ravine.

We learned much later that the problem that caused the heart attack was due to his reconstructive surgery when he was a he grew and became more active, one of the reimplanted coronary arteries became pinched between the rebuilt pulmonary artery and the aorta....this was an inevitable result of the surgery that saved his life 17 years ago and would have happened at some point - while swimming, riding his bike, walking in the neighborhood, playing lacrosse, or running by himself in the neighborhood as he trained for cross the fourth link - he happened to have his attack while at a school with trainers equipped with an AED, with coaches and parents and teammates right there ready and able to help him. He wasn't alone....and he was in the best possible place to have his attack (even though he complicated things a bit by having it in the woods and falling down a steep bank)

Continued below.

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