Austin (KXAN). It was September 2006 and Westlake football star Matt Nader felt on top of the world.
“I went to my last year. I was determined to play for the University of Texas, Mack Brown and the Longhorns,” Nader said.
But on that hot and humid evening on the field at College Station, something went wrong.
“I remember being very lethargic and just feeling unwell…and tired and just not as sharp as usual,” he recalled.
After his team scored a touchdown, he said he remembered sitting on the bench to talk to his coach about the drive.
“Suddenly, I felt an explosion of pain in my chest, began to lose consciousness and sort of fell off the back of the bench,” Nader said.
Nader suffered a cardiac arrest.
“Basically, my heart stopped beating, it was shaking like a bowl of jelly instead of beating,” he said.
His parents, both doctors, rushed from the stands to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation until they were able to get an automated external defibrillator (AED) to get his heart back in action.
Luckily Westlake High had AED.
“We all sort of ran out en masse and started, you know, kind of taking charge so that his parents wouldn’t have to do CPR on their own son,” said Dr. Paul Tucker, an interventional cardiologist at St. stands and helped save Nader back in 2006.
Nader was put on an AED and shocked him. One shock that saved his life.
“Unlike Damar Hamlin, Matt at least didn’t need to be put on a ventilator,” Tucker said.
Nader’s family discovered that he had an undiagnosed heart condition.
While the cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest is not yet known, Tucker said there are ways to spot signs when it occurs, even at a local level, such as at high school football games.
“We were watching live last night and like [Hamlin] fainted, I turned to my wife and said, “It’s a heart problem,” Tucker said.
He said path The fall of Hamlin was a sign.
“Someone who just collapsed the same way he did when he literally fell back…on his helmet,” Tucker explained. “When someone doesn’t try to cushion the fall, they pass out during the fall. So that’s a big clue.”
Tucker, whose son Justin Tucker plays for the Baltimore Ravens, said the athlete can also kneel, sit or lie down.
“Either holding their chest or looking visibly upset, they may be pale,” Dr. Tucker described.
He said it could all come down to an astute coach noticing that his player doesn’t look right.
“I don’t know what it is, but it just doesn’t look like it feels good.” These are all reasons to intervene, to force a young man or woman to leave the field,” Tucker said.
He recommends that all student-athletes undergo pre-competition health screenings.
“There are certain questions we ask, you know, ‘Have you ever felt dizzy when you were exercising? Have you ever fainted from exercise?” he said. “These are all major red flags for us that, hey, this person needs more testing and more evaluation, probably with a cardiologist.”
Some local school districts go further; Coach Anthony Wood of Round Rock ISD said that while the Collegiate Interscholastic League (UIL) requires a biennial physical, their district requires one every year.
He also said that each campus has an emergency plan that is practiced once a year, and trainers are trained in CPR and AED every two years, adding that there are periodic AED safety checks.
Wood also said the county offers heart tests at local hospitals that parents can choose from for their children.
Dr. Tucker also recommends several people who can help in an emergency.
“You always have to have a few people, not just one, on the sidelines… who are ready for this kind of thing, be it an athletic coach on the team, a coach, but someone who knows how to do CPR. ,” he said. “And someone who knows how to open a defibrillator pack and put it on a patient.”
Tucker is pleased that Nader helped pass a state law that requires the use of AEDs at high school sponsored games and practices.
Both say we can do more, like learning how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“If you are armed with the knowledge of how to do CPR, when to do CPR, why to do CPR, and you have AEDs available, you can save lives, point-blank,” Nader said.
He believes that all high schools should even make CPR certification a requirement before graduation.