JACKSON TWP. It was a typical Friday night high school football game for Jackson Township resident Erin Hodgson on the evening of Sept. 14. She has been an athletic trainer with Sandy Valley Cardinals high school football team since 2006 and was working the home game against the Indian Valley Braves.
The football game between the Cardinals and Braves turned out to be anything but typical. The 2001 Jackson High School graduate, along with the athletic trainer from the Indian Valley team and the EMTs at the game, helped save a life of one of the referees working the game that night.
"A typical night of activities for athletic trainers include making sure everyone is taped and stretched before a game and making sure all the medical and safety equipment such as the AED, plenty of water and a medical kit is on the sideline," Hodgson said. "I was busy that evening helping an injured player along the sideline when I heard someone yell that an official was down."
Both Hodgson and Indian Valley’s trainer, Bethany Lewis, who is with the team under a contract with Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital in Dover, immediately began to run on to the field. The official was in the middle of a play and close to the line of scrimmage. Hodgson said she could tell the situation was serious before she got to the official.
"Some of my reaction was pure adrenaline taking over. We train and study for situations like this through college and in certifications, so when a situation like this happens, you try to respond from your instincts and training," Hodgson said. "This was the first situation like this for both Bethany and I, we were lucky to have each other that night."
They both got to the official within seconds. Hodgson said that Lewis began compressions while she was preparing to use the automated external defibrillator (AED) which is a portable battery-operated device used to send a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm. She used the AED on the official just as the EMTs arrived at the scene.
According to an article on Sept. 29 in the Times-Reporter, the referee was loaded into the ambulance and taken to Aultman Hospital and was recovering the next day. It was also reported that there were EMTs and skilled nurses coming onto the field from the stands.
"Both Indian Valley and Sandy Valley are smaller schools, but both recognize the value of having athletic trainers," Hodgson said. "This situation may have turned out differently without the trainers there that night. In situations like this one, every second counts. The EMTs mentioned how important using the AED was in this situation."
Hodgson earned her degree to become an athletic trainer from Kent State University and according to the Times-Reporter, Lewis graduated the University of Mount Union.
"Regardless of the final score, (the weekend of Sept. 14 and 15) has been a victory in what true sportsmanship and rallying together is all about," Sandy Valley Superintendent David. J. Fischer told the Times-Reporter