Tucker Paul can’t remember the times his heart stopped beating. Now he wears a device the size of a credit card in his chest that will allow him to never forget.
The 14-year-old Kalispell football player had just scored a goal in his team’s early morning game at the Three Blind Refs tournament in Kalispell on June 6 when he suddenly collapsed.
Paul’s next memory was waking up in the hospital surrounded by his family, having no idea that a small group of medical professionals and the use of an Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED, had saved him. life.
Paul’s mother, former Kalispell mayor Tammi Fisher, sat on the sidelines with her husband on a chilly Sunday morning when she saw a player “crumble like a sack of potatoes” near the line median. She didn’t know it was her son who had collapsed.
“I didn’t think it was Tucker at first. There was nothing wrong with him. There is never anything wrong with him,” Fisher recalls. “I thought he might have been hit in the head, but he wasn’t. When I got to his side, he was clearly gone. He was blue, pulse-less and completely lifeless. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. “
TRAVIS AND Jaimee Dorvall, both nurses at Logan Health Whitefish, was watching their son play a game on the adjacent field when they heard someone screaming that a player was having a seizure.
“We turned to continue watching our game when we heard someone screaming to call 911, so I ran to see if I could help. When I arrived, Tucker was gray and had no pulse, ”Jaimee Dorvall said. “My first reaction was to call Travis because I know he knows about CPR. Before I knew it, Travis was doing chest compressions.”
Logan Health sports coaches Amy Thoreson and Tracey Houser were at the medical tent a few hundred yards away when the cry for help reached them.
Thoreson and the tournament director rushed onto the field in a golf cart as Houser started running the few hundred yards to the stage.
When Thorseon reached the boy, she immediately understood the gravity of the situation.
“I ran over to Tucker and tried to take his pulse and couldn’t find one,” she said. “He was out of breath, so I immediately turned to Tracey and told her to get the AED.”
Houser quickly turned and rushed to the medical tent for the device while those gathered around Paul continued to administer CPR.
Two shocks from the AED returned Paul’s heart to normal, but he remained unconscious when an ambulance transported him to Logan Health Medical Center.
A BATTERY tests and time have yet to uncover the cause of the acute cardiac event that sent Tucker to the ground that day, but the internal cardiac defibrillator, or IED, inserted under the skin on the left side of his chest is ready to respond, should his heart stop again.
For Tucker, the event was a surreal experience that left him with no memory between fleeing after scoring the goal and waking up in the hospital surrounded by his family.
“I don’t remember it at all,” he said. “I woke up with them telling myself what had happened and I just couldn’t believe it.”
While he was allowed to continue playing soccer and other contact sports, he decided to take a new recreational path.
“My solution is going to be to get into golf or something a little less active than football,” he said. “I don’t want to take that risk with contact sports from now on.”
USE of ACN to save her son’s life has been particularly impactful for Fisher, whose charity Gap Fillers has provided the devices to local schools for several years.
“I had heard of AEDs, but I never really knew what they were doing until now,” she said. “I now know that it is essential that all of our schools and coaches have AEDs and know how to use them for training and competition.”
Fisher and Gap Fillers announced on June 8 the purchase of four AEDs that were donated to Bigfork High School, where a football player collapsed and later died after the first day of training in 2007.
In addition, the Logan Health Youth Development Program has approved the purchase of 20 additional AED units to be placed in schools and with sports programs for young people in the area.
While Fisher says the family may never know what caused her son’s cardiac arrest, she’s just happy that the trainers arranged to borrow an AED from Summit Medical Fitness Center to have it under. hand during the football tournament.
“It was crazy,” Fisher said. “There was no obvious cause, like a blow to the chest or something. His ECG was normal when he was looking sporty, and it was normal when he got to the hospital. His MRI scan was normal. was normal and they found no heart muscle. It was not a heart attack, it was just sudden cardiac death with no known cause.
“It’s scary as a parent,” she continued. “The lesson for me, as a parent, is that you have to be sure there is an AED present. You won’t always be lucky enough to have people around who know about CPR. I guess we don’t. will never know the cause and we will have to accept it. We may not know why this happened, but we know what the solution is. i just urge parents with active kids to be careful and know where the nearest AED is at an event. “
FOR BOTH Tucker and his mother, life is slowly returning to normal. He’s returned to his normal routine of getting up early to walk the family dog and occasionally mow the lawn, but the IED in his chest will be a lifelong reminder of the day his heart stopped beating.
“I don’t think I understand the gravity and impact of the situation yet,” he admitted. “I woke up without feeling any pain, so I pretty much roll with this.”
Fisher said she checked on her son every 15 minutes after the traumatic event.
“Now I can go for about an hour,” Fisher said. “It reassures me to know that with IED there is something to protect it other than a hovering mother.”
Journalist Jeremy Weber can be reached at 406-758-4446 or [email protected]