New Athletic Trainer Saves Life at Football Scrimmage

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An athletic trainer in his first month on the job credits the training he received for guiding him through a harrowing rescue of an unresponsive high school football player last Friday.

Alex West joined the staff at Jo Byrns High School as head athletic trainer after lettering in soccer all four years at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. He was on the sidelines at Jo Byrns in Cedar Hill for a home scrimmage against Houston County High School. One of the visiting players, Jefferey Cox, failed to get up from a pileup on the field, and West raced to his side.

"You could see the kid was really struggling," West told WSMV in Nashville. "He couldn't breathe. I felt for a pulse, and he didn't have a pulse. I yelled for people to call 9-1-1. I started CPR. We got the helmet off him as I stabilized his head. That way I could check his airway."

Parents joined West on the field as they waited for responders.

"To be honest, I was scared myself," West said. "I was terrified. We just kept going with CPR, the breaths and the compressions for 15 minutes until Springfield EMS arrived."

Cox remained at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as of Tuesday. A statement to WSMV from his mother, Alicia Parker, read in part, "I thank God for Jo Byrns athletic trainer Alex West who performed chest compressions for a long time on the field while waiting on the ambulance. Jefferey has 100 percent brain function because of him. ... I really want policies to change. Every team should have a medical trainer and an ambulance should have to be at every game, even just scrimmages."

West credits his education for allowing him to react. "I get a little emotional about it, really," he said. "I guess you're not fully prepared until you're in it. I guess the training just took over. To Jefferey, we're all wishing the best for you. It's going to be a long road still. We've all been praying for him nonstop, and we're hoping for the best."

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