Rex Putnam HS freshman collapses, AED saves his life - KPTV - FOX 12

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Rex Putnam HS freshman collapses, AED saves his life

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Jackson Elkins in his baseball uniform. Jackson Elkins in his baseball uniform.
The trainer and AED that saved Jackson's life. The trainer and AED that saved Jackson's life.
MILWAUKIE, OR. (KPTV) -

A freshman baseball player at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie had a heart attack in the middle of a recent game, and likely would have died if it weren't for staff training and a portable defibrillator.

“They truly saved my son's life,” Derrick Elkins told Fox 12.

His son, Jackson, was playing in a home game on April 27 when he dropped to one knee and collapsed.

At first, athletic trainer Erika Irwin thought he might have been suffering from heat stroke. But when she rushed in to help, she realized the 14-year-old's heart had stopped beating.

“It was kind of that surreal moment that this is something serious,” Irwin said.

She started CPR while another coach dialed 911. She directed a student to run to her office to grab an automated external defibrillator (AED).

It saved his life.

“It was just a very awesome, awesome blessing to hear the words ‘shock advised' [meaning that it worked],” she added. “It brought hope in the moment where there was very little hope.”

Irwin is regularly trained to use such life-saving measures, and was re-certified as recently as a month and a half ago, but had never had to use her skills in an emergency until that moment.

While Irwin was working on Jackson, a neighbor at the game called his parents.

His father, Derrick Elkins, arrived in time to ride with his son in the ambulance.

“All he could say was, ‘I love you, dad,'” he recalled.

Jackson's mother, Tanya, was in Texas on a business trip and took the first flight home.

At Doernbecher Children's Hospital they learned their son had suffered a heart attack. There was a problem with one of his arteries that a regular heart screening wouldn't have caught.

It turns out the AED that saved his life was one of three donated to Rex Putnam High School by the Quinn Driscoll Foundation, in honor of a Vancouver student who died at the age of 13 of sudden cardiac arrest.

“If that AED hadn't been here… Jackson would have a different story,” his mother, Tanya, explained. “If it had happened at home, we would not have been able to save our own child.”

Jackson had open heart surgery on May 1 and was discharged just three days later. While it will be a few months before he can return to the baseball field, he plans on returning to school on Monday.

His parents say he has no memory of the trauma on the field.

“It was just nothing short of a miracle to me to see how everything came together,” Tanya said, adding how grateful they are to Irwin, the school staff and the Quinn Driscoll Foundation.

“I think we catch ourselves looking at him sometimes during the day and just smiling,” Derrick added. “We're just so thankful that he's here with us.”

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