By Amanda Joerndt
What started out as an ordinary day for Shamara Golden soon turned into one of the most terrifying days of her athletic training education.
Golden, a senior graduate student in the Master of Athletic Training program, was working in the field with a certified athletic trainer at a Warren G. Harding High School football practice on a September afternoon.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Golden and her supervisor, Alex McCaskey, jumped into fight-or-flight mode, performing immediate CPR on a boy who was limp and turning white and unresponsive.
Golden said the pair were walking across the field away from practice when she noticed a group of boys not associated with the team trying to pick up the unresponsive boy. This alerted Golden that something was dangerously wrong.
“Immediately, Alex gets down and starts taking pulse. I take off and run to our equipment across the field where we were supposed to be at,” she said. “I grab the AED, automated external defibrillator, because I remember seeing what that looks like in class. I ran, got the AED, got back and Alex was starting compressions at that point.”
As the two hooked up the AED and continued to give the boy compressions and breaths, a crowd formed around the incident, watching in awe.
“Me and Alex were just in the zone. … We knew exactly what to do together like we have been doing it together for forever, and that was our first time for both of us ever doing it,” Golden said. “I took over compressions and he started up the machine. The shock happens and he literally was revived.”
With a pulse regained after use of the AED, the boy still received breaths to keep him conscious. Golden guided the EMS to the scene and helped get the boy onto the stretcher. He was taken to the hospital and put on a ventilator.
Golden said without knowing the correct CPR procedures and caution signs from her class work at Youngstown State University, she would not have known what to look for in an emergency.
“I remember learning what that sign is [in this classroom]. Our teachers teach us the signs, and I told [Alex] that we needed to head over there,” she said. “That day, I did have to use it. That stuff is no joke, and really pay attention to those classes because everything I learned, it helped saved his life.”
After the incident, Golden called her professor for someone to turn to after the traumatic experience.
“I was driving home, and I was crying, and she was like ‘Shamara, you did what you needed to do, and I’m so proud of you,’” she said. “She’s happy about the outcome, but she also put a lot of work into us.”
Golden said being able to know the signs of an emergency like she experienced was the ultimate lifesaver.
“Pay attention in class because if I were to never seen the video they showed me, I would have never have known that sign,” she said. “Don’t just think you’re there for the athletes. … He wasn’t even an athlete; he was a kid coming out of school. Trust what you know and know that it’s there.”
Morgan Bagley, assistant professor and interim program director for the athletic training program, said when she received that phone call that night, she could tell how much Golden cared through the tone in her voice.
“I kept telling her, ‘Shamara, I know you did great. I’ve seen you practice. But just remember, you did everything you knew you could do,’” she said. “She sent this boy off with the EMS, but she really had no idea. At that point, was he going to live?”
According to Bagley, the boy is now doing well.
“We were all very happy to hear that he was doing well, but it had taken a couple of days to do much better,” she said. “I told her, ‘That boy could have been anywhere, but you were there that day, so just remember that.’”
Bagley said she makes her students review CPR skills each semester to be prepared for emergency situations.
“They come in and the first thing they learn is CPR, but I want to make sure that it’s a refresher. … Our students refresh it every single semester,” she said.