An 11-year-old boy was revived after going into cardiac arrest after being hit by a pitch during a Monday night Little League game at Cook Park in Colonie, N.Y.
It was a balmy night in the Albany suburb. In the bottom of the first inning the little leaguer went up to bat. The ball struck him in the chest, causing him to collapse to the ground.
He had suffered from a condition called commotio cordis. It is incredibly rare, occurring only three to four times a year nationally and mostly in young boys while playing sports.
“It’s an agitation of the heart,” said Colonie EMS Chief Peter Berry. “It happens when a sports player suffers blunt force trauma. If it hits just right, it disrupts the heart’s electric signals and sends the child into cardiac arrest.”
The next few moments were full of fright for onlookers.
“It was scary for everyone involved,” said Frank Prevratil.
But that fear did not last long. Minutes after the boy collapsed, Prevratil, the Colonie Little League president and manager for the opposing team, leapt into action. He, other coaches and the umpire ran over to the boy while someone immediately called 911.
For about four minutes, Prevratil was on the ground with the boy trying to keep him alert. However, as his breathing grew more shallow and his pulse stopped, the CPR-certified Prevratil knew that he had to act and began giving chest compressions to the boy. Thirty seconds after compressions began, the boy started breathing sporadically and a police officer showed up and continued CPR treatments. A minute after that EMTs arrived and administered two shocks to the boy’s chest with a defibrillator.
He regained consciousness and was transported to Albany Medical Center. Berry said that the boy is “doing very well” and is “in good spirits.”
His father, Mark Mendrick, told News Channel 13 that he’s thankful to all the coaches of Colonie and added, “”He’s got some hurdles to go. The rest of the kids are taking it fairly well. Some are too little to understand.”
The league’s Tuesday games were cancelled and counselors were brought in for any players that may need them.
For people involved that night, the possibility of the other alternative still weighs on their mind.
“EMS, police, the people there, all really pulled together. The 11-year-old is still alive when this could have easily gone the other way,” said Lt. Robert Winn of the Colonie Police Department.
According to Berry, 65 percent of children that go into commotio cordis die from it.
Little League International mandates that all of its coached are trained to use an automatic external defibrillator and Berry thinks that the training could even go further.
“It might be a good idea to mandate Little League CPR training. It’s something we feel very strongly about. Early recognition and initiation of CPR is so important,” he said.
“You never know when you’re going to need it [training]. Thank God I had it,” Prevratil said.
In the aftermath of the incident, parents all over Colonie are searching for ways to prevent the same from happening to their child. Micky Erbe, a manager at the local Sports Authority told ABC News that sales of shirts with compression heart protectors have nearly doubled.
“They’re flying off of the shelves,” Erbe said.