WALDWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey family hopes to have all coaches receive first responder training in order to save athletes from cardiac emergencies.
“I couldn’t go through the thought of hearing it happen to any other son or parent,” Jim Fisher told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.
He and his wife, Sheila, talked about the loss of their only child, Sean, who collapsed at football practice and died from an undetected heart ailment. It was his 13th birthday.
“Sean had just gotten a brand new jersey. He was so excited,” coach Ray Jimenez said. “It was horrific. Not just for me, but for all the kids and parents who were there.”
In the nearly 10 years since he’s been gone, the Fishers have put their energy into a foundations in their son’s name, getting cardiac screening in schools. They’ve also been working with New Jersey lawmakers on a proposed bill to have all eighth grade student athletes screened.
“Forgive my tears, but that’s what happens to you when you lose a kid,” Jim said.
Fisher unabashedly shed those tears in front of participants in a new program, called All Heart. It’s designed to bring vital first responder training to the people closest to the action when a kid is on the field – the coaches.
It’s an intensive program teaching CPR and using AEDs, automated external defibrillators.
“All coaches should have this, because the opportunity to save a life is very important,” said Mike O’Neill, the girls program director for the Players Development Academy and class participant. “Every night after this class, I get a text or an email from a coach, saying, ‘thank you very much.’”
“I feel that I’ll be empowered by having this training and being able to be a first responder on any site,” added Gerry McKeown, the boys program director for the PDA.
“Youth athletics in the United States is a $2 billion industry. The cost of training a coach in CPR is around $100,” Dr. Nidhi Kumar said.
Dr. Kumar is a cardiologist who’s helping to spearhead the program.
“It was just about changing the model as to how we respond to these emergencies,” he said. “We can reduce or almost get close to eliminating deaths from sudden cardiac arrest in athletes on the field.”
In addition to the nearly 100 coaches who’ve been trained locally, more than 20 athletic clubs across the country are working to get the same first responder training to their coaches, as well.
Coming up Wednesday at 11 p.m., the story continues with an incredible new chapter. Jim and Sheila Fisher will share an emotional reunion with the paramedic who tried to save their son.