Men's volleyball team springs into action to help man having seizure

Photo taken by Rachel Burrus

BRISTOL, Tenn. – As a part of its coaching requirements, the NCAA mandates that all coaches be trained in CPR and administering first aid. Those that undergo the training hope that they will not have to use it, but can be assured that they will have the skills necessary to help those in need if they encounter someone requiring urgent care.

On a recent road trip to face No. 15 IPFW and No. 13 Ball State, members of the King University men's volleyball team were faced with such a situation. After ordering their food at a Muncie, Ind. International House of Pancakes, members of the team noticed a commotion in a booth behind them.

"I heard a lady yelling, 'Someone help him! He's choking!' " said Jeremy Funk, a senior team captain who serves as the team's primary libero and currently ranks among the national leaders in digs. "I noticed that he was having trouble breathing, and there was a moment when everyone froze. Chris [Gerber] and I went over and just did what we could."

As Funk and Gerber approached, they were anticipating helping to dislodge food to clear the man's airways. But Funk, who will graduate in May with a degree in Athletic Training, noticed that the man's arms were tensed and held against his body, alerting him that he was suffering from a seizure rather than simply choking on food.

"We got him onto his side and into the floor so that he would be away from anything on the table that could cause him to hurt himself," said Funk. "His wife said that he didn't have a history of seizures. We were really worried when we noticed blood coming from his mouth, but I thought that he may have just bitten off the tip of his tongue during his convulsions. We also could tell that he was breathing through his nose, which was a great sign and meant we didn't have to worry about that. One of the hardest jobs was keeping his wife calm during the whole episode."

As the man began to regain consciousness, he was disoriented and attempted to get up and decline aid from those helping him. But Funk was able to help keep the man under control until the paramedics arrived and then assisted as they administered oxygen to him and carried him to the ambulance.

When the team returned to the same restaurant a day later for another meal, IHOP managers gave Funk a complimentary meal because of his efforts in administering care to the man. They were also able to update the team on his condition: the man had been struck in the head a week earlier, and undetected bleeding on his brain stemming from that incident had caused the seizure.

Head coach Ryan Booher was proud that his players were able to react so quickly to the situation and assess exactly what the man needed. He also was thankful for his own first aid training that gave him the necessary tools to help should he have been needed. "I would have been happy to help," said Booher, "but with Jeremy having a broader knowledge base I deferred to him. It's very reassuring to know that I could have helped as well."

Funk was thankful for his professors teaching him the skills necessary to think quickly, assess the situation, and help the man until the paramedics arrived. "I don't think I did anything extraordinary," Funk remarked. "I was just doing what I was trained to do."