Rome Free Academy lacrosse coaches Guy Calandra and Jeremy Roberts were running the lacrosse tryouts for about 50 10th-graders at Fayetteville-Manlius High School , including Sophomore Dan Cochran, when the incident happened at about 6:30 p.m. Calandra said he was about five feet away when he saw Cochran take the blow from the shot.
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Cochran turned his body in anticipation of the contact. The lacrosse ball struck him in the rib cage underneath his chest protector. Calandra said Cochran fell face forward to the ground.
“When I got to look at him, I could just tell,” Calandra said. “I said to him, ‘Hey, are you OK? Look at me. What’s your name?’ He couldn’t respond. I yelled for 911 and Jeremy.”
Cochran’s breathing was labored. Roberts was at the opposite end of the field working with other players. The second time Calandra called his name, Roberts said he knew there was a crisis. He sprinted to the other end of the field to begin CPR on Cochran.
Roberts, 36, has worked as a lifeguard since he was 16 and been a certified trainer for the last five years. Calandra is trained in CPR as well. Calandra began a series of 30 compression pumps on Cochran’s chest. Roberts performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The mother of another player trying out for the 11th-grade team approached the scene. She said she was a registered nurse and asked Calandra if he needed her to take over. She did and performed a series of compression pumps.
Fayetteville-Manlius High School certified trainer Cyndi Kelder rushed to the scene with a defibrillator. Even though this was not a school event, she had been hired to work the tryouts by Tom Hall, the longtime F-M lacrosse patriarch and the founder of the Upstate Risings event.
Kelder said Cochran had no pulse when she hooked him up to the defibrillator. The machine told her what to do next — apply the pads and shock the player. She did. The blast got Cochran’s heart pumping in rhythm again.
“I’ve been doing this awhile now,” said Kelder. “I’ve never had to open up (the defibrillator) other than checking it and for maintenance. It was one of those moments.”
Sirens from local ambulances and fire trucks wailed in the distance. Multiple rescue trucks pulled onto the field. Roberts kept yelling encouragement to Cochran.
“Hang in there, buddy,” he said. “Hang in there.”
Cochran was beginning to respond. Calandra asked him how he felt. He told the coach his arm was sore. It was a sweet response.
The magnitude of their efforts hit hard later in the night. Calandra said he could barely talk, much less feel. Roberts said he hugged his wife, Becky, and broke into tears. The nurse who assisted on the field broke into tears when she saw her son after tryouts. She said it all hit home. That could have been her son, she said.
F-M boys lacrosse coach Chris Kenneally said he was witness to a tragedy at Hobart some 30 years ago when a player died on the field after being struck in the chest by a shot. He vowed that would never happen again and said the school is vigilant and ready with its supply of defibrillators and trainers.
Hall said had this happened at the Empire State Games, there would have been no trainers or defibrillators because of cost cuts.
“We prepare for this type of thing,” Hall said. “I was so impressed with the (RFA) staff and (F-M) trainer. I’ve seen some serious situations over the years. This has to be at the top of the list.”
“Even though we’re all trained, it was nice to have more hands,” Calandra said. “It went well. It could have been horrible.
“I hope I don’t ever have to do it again, I’ll tell you that.”
Jamesville-DeWitt High School sophomore Dan Cochran returned to school on Friday, a day after he was released from University Hospital and two days after he was revived by CPR and a defibrillator. He was taken to University Hospital, but released less than a day later with only a bruise and a hospital bracelet as outward signs of how close he’d come to death.
“He went to shoot, and I tried to turn to get out of the way. It didn’t really work,” Daniel said. “I think I probably took like two steps. I tried to yell, and then I just fell on my face.”
“It hit him at the perfect timing,” said Danielle Boland, Daniel’s mother. “It had stopped his heart.”
Daniel’s father, Sean Boland, has worked for Rural Metro for 20 years and he’s given CPR on the phone hundreds of times. Now, he saw coaches were performing the procedure on his son. “I saw the fire trucks and ambulance and police go by and I said to myself, boy I hope that’s not Daniel,” he said.
Then, a certified athletic trainer jump-started his heart with an automated external defibrillator.
“It worked to perfection, as it should,” said F-M Athletic Director Rich Roy. “Coaches, these are all high school coaches. They’re trained in first aid and CPR and AED.”
Thursday is Danielle Boland’s birthday. She says she’s very grateful for the gift of life being restored to her son. “They brought him back to us. Because, if it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t be here,” she said.
“It’s kind of mind boggling. One minute I’m on the verge of death and the next minute I’m being discharged,” Daniel Cochran said.
Daniel says he will undoubtedly return to the lacrosse field. “I love the game, I love it,” he said.