A Jessie Clark Middle School student was upgraded from serious to fair condition early Wednesday after collapsing during a baseball drill Monday afternoon.
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Meanwhile, Fayette County Public Schools officials said the student received prompt treatment in accordance with established emergency action plans.
Benjamin Highland the Survivor
“How it was handled with the trainer and coaches … everything was done as it should have been done,” Fayette Schools athletics director Don Adkins said during a news conference at the school district’s central office.
Benjamin Highland, an eighth-grader at Jessie Clark, collapsed about 5:30 p.m. Monday on the baseball field at Lafayette High School, where he was participating in conditioning drills in preparation for tryouts for Lafayette’s baseball team later this month. Highland apparently planned to try out, district officials said.
Highland was rushed to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he was reported in critical condition Tuesday morning. His condition was upgraded to serious Tuesday afternoon.
Fayette high schools director Mike McKenzie said a veteran high school trainer, various Lafayette coaches and passersby pitched in to help when the boy was stricken.
The trainer, Jenni Williams, directed coaches to dial 911, treated Highland with an external defibrillator and then administered CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, he said. A nurse who lives in the area and was out walking her dog saw what was happening and rushed in to help with CPR, while an off-duty police officer at the scene helped by making sure the ambulance could get onto the ballfield quickly, according to McKenzie.
District officials were trying to get the nurse’s name so they could thank her.
“It really was a team effort by a lot of people on the sidelines who jumped in and helped out,” he said.
McKenzie particularly credited Williams, a veteran trainer. Williams, who serves the school district under a contract with UK, was declining comment Tuesday, university officials said.
“With the adrenalin and emotion after such an event, she was pretty shook for a while last night,” McKenzie said. “She’s fine. But in the moments after such a situation where you’ve just helped a young person survive … .
“In talking with her last night … we thanked her and told her job well done. Her first response was, ‘It was a team effort.’”
Meanwhile, Fayette middle schools director Kelley Ransdell said the district sent support staff to Jessie Clark on Tuesday morning to help faculty members in offering support to students arriving for classes. Eighth-grade teachers spent extra time with their homeroom students Tuesday morning to explain what had happened and make counseling available if requested, Ransdell said.
“District support staff … reported to me this morning that things were going really well and that students were already in the mode of preparing some get-well cards,” she said.
Ransdell said Jessie Clark students were “really concerned” about their stricken classmate, “as we all are.”
According to Fayette school district officials, Highland and at least six other eighth-graders were participating in the drills Monday when the incident occurred.
It is not unusual for talented eighth-grade players to try out for high school baseball teams. At least 10 eighth-graders were on Lafayette’s roster last year, according to the school’s Web site.
The conditioning drills at Lafayette had been going on for several days, according to district officials.
McKenzie said he didn’t know the specific kind of drills that being used Monday. But he said no “hard-running activity” was involved. According to Ransdell, the drills already had started Monday afternoon when the middle school students arrived and started to take part.
McKenzie said the players had completed a drill and were transitioning to another when Highland collapsed. “One of the kids yelled ‘Coach;’ they looked over and saw a young man start to go down,” he said.
According to McKenzie, Lafayette head baseball coach Chris Langston rushed to Highland’s side and “determined immediately that they needed the trainer and called the trainer who was just inside the gym.”
When Williams arrived, she directed an assistant coach to dial 911 and sent another to bring the defibrillator. She then began CPR, McKenzie said.
McKenzie said he didn’t know how long CPR was administered before an ambulance arrived. He also said he didn’t know how long the conditioning drills had been going on before the boy collapsed.