A fast-acting athletic trainer saved the life of a University of Iowa basketball manager earlier this month.
Sophomore Luke Slavens was rebounding for the men’s basketball team on Jan. 12 in Iowa City when he started to feel dizzy, according to Hawkeye Sports. Sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp suggested Slavens sit down, while freshman guard Joe Toussaint went to trainer Brad Floy for help.
“The next thing I know, I’m on the ground with a mask on me and they’re pumping on my chest,” Slavens, whose heart stopped for two or three minutes while Floy reacted, told USA TODAY.
“He was feeling light-headed and dizzy,” said Floy, who is a trained CPR instructor in his eighth season as Iowa’s men’s basketball trainer. “In the middle of a question, he stopped answering and looked like he was going to faint. He was pale.”
"I literally fell into Brad's arms," Slavens said. "He teaches CPR, so it could not have been a better circumstance for me. I was so fortunate.”
Floy and a student assistant laid Slavens down on the court. Slavens went into cardiac arrest – the first issue he has ever had with his heart despite having Brugada Syndrome, which leads to unusual electrical activity in the heart. The Carver-Hawkeye practice gym was cleared, the assistant called 911, Floy used a nearby defibrillator and a public safety officer helped him with CPR.
While unconscious, Slavens said it was as if he was dreaming. The Minnesota native thought he was riding in the back seat of his family’s car, arriving home before his dad woke him up.
"At that point, I could feel myself getting pumped," Slavens said. "It wasn't like a spiritual thing, it was like a dream. When I woke, I knew where I was and I wasn't startled. I felt refreshed and alert. ... I couldn't move or feel my arms for 10 to 15 minutes. They told me to breath and that helped. Once I got to the emergency room, I was ready to go back to practice."
Slavens had surgery Jan. 14 to place an implantable cardioverter defibrillator in his chest, returned to practice Jan. 16, celebrated his 20th birthday Jan. 21, and was behind the bench during a Jan. 22 home win over Rutgers. He can’t drive for six months or lift more than 10 pounds for 4-6 weeks, and will spend much of his manager duties filming practice or compiling statistics.
“The scariest part is thinking about if this had happened outside of basketball,” said Slavens, a pre-business major. “I’m just happy that I’m back. I’m happy to be here.”