March 28, 2014 at 11:12 AM ET
When a high school baseball player came through in the clutch last week, he ended up saving an umpire’s life.
A junior on the JV team at Rockdale County High School in Conyers, Ga., Alex Norwood, 16, rushed to assist with CPR on veteran umpire Woody Reagin after Reagin collapsed from a heart attack on March 21. Rockdale’s coach, Jerrid Harris, rushed to home plate after Reagin went down and asked if anyone knew CPR. Norwood, who had learned CPR during a lifeguard certification two weeks earlier, ran out of the dugout to help less than a minute after Reagin collapsed, NBC affiliate WXIA first reported.
“I've never seen anything like it before,’’ Harris told TODAY.com. “It was amazing how his instinct was to run toward the crisis. He was so amazingly confident and never hesitated.”
“When he first collapsed, I didn't really know what was going on,’’ Norwood told TODAY.com. “Someone in the crowd said he was having a seizure. Coach Harris was the first one out there. He was trying to talk to him and he couldn't, and they realized his heart had stopped. I know CPR, so when I actually went out there, I wasn't thinking about it. I guess it was just instinct. I wasn’t nervous when I did it.”
The CPR began about 60 seconds after Reagin had collapsed. Norwood didn't feel a pulse, so he performed 30 chest compressions. Harris, who is also the school’s athletic director and is required to be certified in CPR, then followed. A pair of spectators, both of whom had experience as emergency medical technicians, also assisted.
Approximately 15 minutes later, an ambulance arrived. Reagin remains hospitalized, but Harris said he has been told by those close to his family that doctors are optimistic he will make a full recovery.
Norwood has received accolades from his school and community, but his main hope is that his actions will inspire more people to learn CPR.
“(The attention) was unexpected,’’ Norwood said. “I really didn't think it would be as big as it is. I would like to think that this would (spread awareness). A lot of people know the basic idea, so it’s just about knowing exactly how to do it.”
His mother, Marybeth Norwood emphasized the importance of programs like Project S.A.V.E. at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta — where she works as a resource nurse — that teach life-saving skills to teachers and coaches. She also has spoken to the nurse coordinator of Project S.A.V.E. about including student-athletes in the training in the future.
“What my kid did is what any caring, compassionate human being would do,’’ she told TODAY.com. “This is what people are supposed to do — have a conscience and do the right thing.
“Everybody needs to be getting CPR or heart-saver certified. We would like to shift the attention from Alex to the importance of everybody being trained. Alex got on that guy's chest in less than 60 seconds, which was crucial.”