High school athletic trainer saves a life by performing CPR at wrestling tournament

High school athletic trainer saves a life by performing CPR at wrestling tournament
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 6:27 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Wilmington athletic trainer is being called a hero tonight after she performed CPR and ultimately saved a life during a wrestling tournament over the weekend.

Laney High School Athletic Trainer Kristen Thacker was working at the 4A East Regional Wrestling Tournament at Laney on Saturday when she was called over for an emergency in the stands. A spectator was experiencing a medical emergency, and when she got to him, he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.

“We train for this. We have emergency action plans in place for a reason. We design those specifically for each event,” Thacker said. “And, I don’t know, it’s my job. I was really just doing my job.”

Thacker began doing CPR and an AED was placed on the man to shock his heart back into rhythm.

He regained his pulse before EMS arrived and was transported to the hospital, where he’s now recovering.

Thacker has worked for years as a trainer in high school and college athletics and in the military but said this was the first time she performed CPR on someone experiencing a medical emergency.

“It feels great. It does,” Thacker said. “I’m happy for him, I’m happy for his family. I’m happy that I was able to assist with that.”

The nation watched on just over a month ago as a similar situation unfolded on an NFL field. Athletic trainers administered CPR to Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest. That put a new emphasis on seeking out CPR certification, as it can often be the difference in life or death during a medical emergency.

Thacker said she’s hoping her story will also inspire those in her community to learn how to do CPR so they, too could save a life if an emergency arose. She also said she hopes it will shine a light on the important role athletic trainers – and anyone who knows how to do CPR – play in not just sports, but in everyday life.

“Some people call me a hero,” she said. “I just really feel like I was doing my job, honestly.”