When the Towson High School boy’s lacrosse team went to the county championships, Samantha Smith ’15 could have relaxed at home. The county had another athletic trainer covering that event, and Sam had to work another game in the afternoon, too.
But those boys were like family. “They deserved to have their athletic trainer there,” Sam said. So she went along to enjoy the game, cheer them on, and help out if they needed anything.
Instead, she faced the hardest trial of her career.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, Sam noticed commotion across the field in the bleachers. Someone called for help. The referee halted the game.
Sam and the other athletic trainer on duty dashed across the field and found a man — the father of one of the Towson players — lying unconscious in the stands.
His heart wasn’t beating.
The athletic trainer on duty began CPR and barked at Sam to get the defibrillator. “I had never sprinted so fast in my life,” Sam recalled.
When she came back, Sam heard a voice.
“First thing, turn on the AED,” it said. Sam recognized the voice. It was Emily Evans, the University of Lynchburg athletic training professor who had taught her CPR. It had been years, and Sam had taken a recertification class since then, but it was Professor Evans’ voice that came to her in the tense, potentially tragic moment.
“It was like she was standing right next to me telling me what to do,” Sam said.
With the help of CPR and the electric pulse from the defibrillator, the man’s heart started beating again. An ambulance arrived and rushed him to the hospital. Sam turned to the tear-stained faces of teenage lacrosse players who had watched and worried, including one boy whose father’s life was on the line. The referee ended the game.
Sam reached out to Professor Evans soon to share the experience. “It’s stories like Sam’s that let me know I’m doing something right,” Evans said. “It reiterates that people need to learn CPR.”
Every Lynchburg athletic training major gets CPR training in multiple classes, and they usually recertify shortly before graduating. It’s a skill that most people never actually apply, but it’s vital to master it because it’s unpredictable when it might be necessary to save a life, Evans said.
“She knows at some point in our lives as athletic trainers, we could be in that situation,” Sam said. “Emily makes it very serious. She tells us from the get go — you’re going to think that you don’t have the knowledge, but your training kicks in. That’s exactly how it happened.”
“Lynchburg prepared me really well for this incident,” Sam added. “It was Emily Evans’ voice in my head that helped me save this man’s life. Now one of my players still has his dad.”