A Game-Changing Volleyball Match

High school sophomore Cayden Brewer was having an uneventful day at Huntingdon High School, in Huntingdon, Tennessee. It was just like any other Monday until he arrived at gym class, where everything changed.

While playing volleyball, Cayden suddenly felt winded. “I went to sit down because I felt short of breath,” he recalls. Finding a seat, he tried to catch his breath and then rejoin the game. When he tried to stand, Cayden passed out briefly, quickly regaining consciousness long enough to speak to those nearest him, then dropped to the floor.

An alarming scene

Physical education director and teacher Clint Ezell saw Cayden lying on the floor, unresponsive and beginning to turn blue. He immediately dispatched a student to find the school nurse, Gina Ledsinger. She arrived seconds later, as Cayden began agonal respirations—a condition in which breathing sounds more like snoring. “Because Cayden had agonal respirations and a history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, I suspected sudden cardiac arrest (SCA),” Gina explains. She told one student to run and get the school’s automated external defibrillator (AED) and another student to quickly find nursing instructor Tanya Ricketts. Clint called 911 and notified the Huntingdon High School’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

The school nurse and CERT team acted quickly and accurately. They utilized the ZOLL AED to administer two shocks along with high-quality CPR.

Caitlin Smith
Health Services Coordinator and Nurse Manager
Huntingdon Special School District

Staff and students respond with aces

When the student arrived with the ZOLL AED Plus® defibrillator, Gina continued CPR while Clint turned on the AED and applied the electrodes to Cayden’s chest. The AED analyzed Cayden’s heart rhythm and recommended a shock. After the first defibrillation shock, Cayden regained consciousness. Rescuers put him in the recovery position, but he quickly fell unconscious again. Tanya took over CPR, adjusting her compressions as instructed by the AED to ensure that Cayden received high-quality CPR. The AED analyzed Cayden’s heart a second time and determined that he needed an additional shock. Following the second defibrillation, Cayden opened his eyes, responsive and alert.

A winning outcome

EMTs arrived at Huntingdon shortly after Cayden regained consciousness. They transported him to a local hospital where he was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Doctors prescribed an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) to protect against any future heart rhythm issues. Cayden was released after a brief hospital stay.

From left to right: Vice Principal Vicki Crossno; Tonya Rickett, medical teacher; Cayden Brewer, survivor; Gina Ledsinger, school nurse; Principal Porsche McClerking; and Sport Director Clint Ezell

According to Caitlin Smith, the district health services coordinator and nurse manager for Huntingdon Special School District, “The school nurse and CERT team acted quickly and accurately. They utilized the ZOLL AED to administer two shocks along with high-quality CPR.” Without the brave actions and well-organized response of teachers and students before EMS arrived, the outcome may have been very different. But thanks to these individuals, Cayden is recovering and taking the opportunity to enjoy summer before returning to Huntingdon for his junior year.

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