I can’t imagine anything more horrifying than this: going to your son’s high school baseball game and seeing him collapse while trotting to first after being hit in the chest by a pitch, and finding him lifeless when you get to him - with his eyes wide open and not breathing.
That’s exactly the awful situation that Jason Cairns found himself in on June 25 after his son Hunter was hit by a pitch while playing for Los Alamitos High in the O.C. But the LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM says that this story has a happy ending, as Hunter was out of the hospital and back home two days later thanks to some quick-thinking bystanders and a lot of luck.
What Hunter had suffered was something called “commotio cordis,” where a sudden trauma to the left side of the heart makes it beat too fast for the bloodflow to keep up with, essentially causing the heart to stop. While it’s rare - only 225 cases have been diagnosed since 1998 in the U.S. - a leading expert called it “a lethal situation,” with only 15 percent of victims surviving.
So why did Hunter beat the odds? First, we was able to get CPR from two firefighters in the stands, including his grandfather Jack Lee - a retired Long Beach Fire Department captain. And paramedics were able to get to Hunter within three minutes because they had just passed the high school after responding to a call that had just been canceled. Because CPR had been started, the paramedics were able to immediately use defibrillators instead of waiting extra minutes they didn’t have.
While the story has a happy ending, it doesn’t mean that it’s over. Hunter’s mom has started pushing for increased safety requirements at high school sporting events, including requiring coaches to be CPR certified (they aren’t already?!?) and having defibrillators available at every event. Which sounds great, except when you consider the prospect of bored 14-year-old baseball players goofing off with them during a game - picture a “hot foot” times a thousand and you get the picture.