At School Sports Events, Athletic Trainers Can Be The Difference Between Life And Death

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Whether it’s a referee having a heart attack, an athlete suffering a concussion, or a fan hit by a ball, few schools have a medical staff on site to respond immediately to medical emergencies.

That’s all changing thanks to a new life saver.

“We were yelling at her, ‘you’re not leaving us, we’re not letting you go’,” Nick Kostishak Jr. recalled.

In January, St. Anthony’s High School graduate Taya Paschall went to see her Alma mater take on Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville where Kostishak Jr. is an athletic trainer.

“I was on the sideline with my team, and my athletic director urgently came over,” he said.

“Somewhere during the third quarter I got dizzy and I just went out,” Paschall said.

Trainers are typically there to care for players, but that night it was Paschall — a fan — who was in need of medical attention.

“Her lips were turning blue,” Kostishak said.

She wasn’t breathing, and then lost her pulse.

“She was dead on our table, she had flatlined, she was dead,” he added.

As schools struggle with less funding, few have athletic trainers on staff.

Angelo Marsella, Director of Sports Medicine for Professional Physical Therapy — an organization that places athletic trainers — said with an increase in concussion awareness, schools are now realizing the importance of having a medical professional at all games and not just for the athletes.

“You’re not just focused on one person or one sport, you’re there for the safety of everyone around you,” Marsella said.

An ambulance would have taken minutes to arrive, but Kostishak was able to react in seconds, shocking Paschall back to life, and performing CPR.

“A lot of other people wouldn’t know what to do,” she said.

“Every single doctor that saw Taya said, ‘it’s amazing that you’re still here, and even when people survive the event they’re brain damaged,” her mother Kimma said.

Kimma said her daughter suffered cardiac arrest due to a previously undetected heart condition.

“For Taya to be alive and functioning it’s amazing. I can’t believe to tell you how grateful I really am,” she said

Although Kostishak has a pretty good idea.

“I couldn’t imagine the thought of what would have happened if I had lost her. A complete stranger and I feel like we’re family now,” he said.

Certified athletic trainers undergo four years of schooling and at least 600 hours of clinical experience.

According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, 37 percent of public high schools employee full time athletic trainers.

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