In a situation no athletic trainer wants to face, Chelsey Meyers and Kelly Hockenberger were grateful they had the necessary training to help Austin Reese on Feb. 11. That was the day Reese suffered cardiac arrest during a wrestling match. Thanks in part to the Ohio University athletic trainers, Reese’s life was saved and he’s made a full recovery. For their efforts, Meyers and Hockenberger have been honored by the National Athletic Trainers Association with a Lifesaver Certificate of Recognition.
Reese, a redshirt junior on OHIO’s wrestling team, was paired with an opponent from Old Dominion University when he lost consciousness. In an interview with ESPN, Reese said all he could remember was a scramble where he had his opponent down and they went out of bounds. He said he stood up and adjusted his head gear and from there “everything went white.”
While Reese doesn’t remember it, he walked back to the center of the mat, engaged with his counterpart and then collapsed into cardiac arrest. Meyers, a student in the College of Health Sciences and Professions and a graduate assistant trainer for the wrestling team, was standing on the sideline.
“I just remember Austin basically fell over the kid and from there my instinct was just to run out to him. My adrenaline was pumping at that point because I knew something wasn’t right,” she said.
When Meyers arrived, Reese was unconscious but breathing. She started talking to the Bobcat wrestler lying prone on the mat in case he was able to hear. Moments later, however, Reese stopped breathing.
Hockenberger, an associate athletic trainer, started compressions on Reese as Meyers ran to retrieve an automated external defibrillator (AED). The AED did its job and Reese regained a heartbeat and his breathing. Moments later, an ambulance crew had Reese stabilized.
“It was definitely the scariest moment of my career so far,” said Meyers. “You always think you aren’t going to go through something like that and you hope and pray you don’t have to in your career. I pray I don’t have to again.”
“I did my job that day and I am very lucky my student athlete survived,” said Hockenberger. “I’m thankful that my training, education and experience helped lead to a positive outcome but I am realistic enough to realize that we are lucky this turned out the way it did.”
Meyers described receiving recognition from NATA as humbling.
“I’m just thankful that Austin is OK. He was my No. 1 priority that day,” she added.
Others also included in recognition by the NATA were: Taylor Gray (MS 2015) for saving the life of a track athlete; Josh Long (MS 2009) and Tim Donovan (MS 2011) for saving the life of a police officer following a motorcycle accident at a practice; Leith Spring (MS 2013) and Katarina Hanifan (junior, BSAT expected 2019) for saving the life of a person in the stands at Lancaster High School; and Carly Hartman (BS 2016) for her cervical spine heroic effort during the Akron City basketball championship.