A high school cross country coach was saved from death after he collapsed at the end of a practice this week.

Longview (Texas) High School cross country coach Ken Jernigan suffered a stroke at the end of the team’s practices. His athletes immediately sprinted to retrieve the school’s two athletic trainers, Diedre Scotter and Kristin Croley.

“The kids came running into the training room and screamed that Coach Jernigan had collapsed and when they said that, knowing that he has a little heart history, I took off and told Coach Croley to grab the automated external defibrillator (AED) and we both got up there quickly,” Scotter told the Longview News-Journal. “He wasn’t getting regular breaths and Kristin felt a thready pulse to no pulse so it was a no brainer to put the AED on him right away.”

The staff, joined by school nurse Laura Kennedy, administered CPR until EMS arrived and Jernigan’s condition improved quickly.

Scotter and Croley said it was the first time for both to put the AED machine to work. AED machines are readily available throughout Longview ISD campuses.

“You don’t have time to think,” Croley said. “Your instincts kick in and you just go. There’s no hesitation. We‘ve been trained to do this so it’s a situation where it’s ‘OK, here it is, let’s go.’ ”

Scotter and Croley oversee approximately 600 athletes at Longview High School. “It was just a regular day, the last period of the day, a somewhat slow time before practice starts,” said Scotter. “It’s one of those things where you don’t expect it but you have to be ready. Us being together at that time really helped us make decisions a lot quicker.”

Jernigan is doing well and is recovering in a local hospital.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.