Posted by Bob Trenkamp on 10/11/2012

Player, 14, saved by coach's CPR training, automated external defibrillator
By Associated Press

Knoxville Central High School freshman Hunter Helton had sudden cardiac arrest during a conditioning practice Monday.

According to The Knoxville News Sentinel (, coach Jon Higgins, -- a former University of Tennessee player -- performed the rescue protocol on Hunter and used the AED to stabilize his heartbeat. The youth is a cousin to Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, a former UT standout. Todd Helton also played prep ball at Central High School.

Hunter's father said the boy had no history of heart problems.

"He's had poison ivy and braces -- that's all," Ronnie Helton said. "He's always been a healthy, normal kid."

But thinking back to Monday evening and what doctors told him, Ronnie Helton still gets emotional.
"He flatlined three times," he said, choking back tears.

Hunter woke up at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, remembering only a burning in his chest before he passed out.

"I didn't know anything," he said.

Hospital officials said 600 to 1,000 of the 350,000 sudden cardiac deaths in the U.S. each year occur in children or adolescents, which averages out to 10-15 student deaths in Tennessee each year. If an AED is used within 3-5 minutes after a person's heart stops pumping, the result could save a person's life.

"The heart doctor told us if it hadn't been for the coach and the AED, he wouldn't have made it," said Ronnie Helton.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hunter was sitting up in bed, joking with friends and family members.

"I just want to thank my coaches," Hunter said. "They saved my life."

The youth was scheduled to be transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on Wednesday to undergo further testing.
Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel,