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15-Year-Old New Jersey Boy Collapses During H.S. Track Practice

MONTVALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There was a big scare on a New Jersey high school track Wednesday after a student collapsed during practice.

As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Wednesday night, working with student athletes at Pascack Hills High School has been Steven Papa’s mission. He hoped he never had to save one, but on Wednesday he did.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got up there,” Papa said in a telephone interview.

Around 3:30 p.m., the 15-year-old boy was taking part in track practice behind Pascack Hills High School when he collapsed.

The teen was training with a former student at the time who happened to be a trained EMT, Champion reported.

The former student performed CPR while Papa rushed to the field with a defibrillator.

“I pressed the shock button to give him a shock, and once that was happening, it gave him a pulse rate back,” Papa said. “He had to continue CPR for a little while after that.”

The combined efforts brought back a strong pulse. Principal Glenn deMarrais witnessed it all.

“Your heart’s in your throat, because you don’t know what you’re going to find,” deMarrais said.

Pascack Hills high is ahead of schedule in meeting Janet’s Law. By September of this year, it requires New Jersey schools to have defibrillators within range during student athletic practices and events.

“I really think that this is a good example of when we have practices and the case where our staff, our coaching staff, is trained in CPR, we have a defibrillator on site, as well as making sure we have a certified trainer on site,” School Superintendent Eric Gundersen told CBS 2. “In unfortunate circumstances like this, we’re able to respond in a quick and efficient manner.”

The law is named after Janet Zilinski, an 11-year-old who died in 2006 shortly after cheerleading practice.

“This is the perfect example of the importance of having that defibrillator and being prepared,” deMarrais said. “You never think it’s going to happen to you.”

The boy was not identified Wednesday night. He was breathing on his own when he was taken to The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.

At last check, he was stable and becoming more responsive.

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