on March 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

New Seneca football coach saves infant’s life

SENECA — Like all coaches, Ron Duncan has faced his share of game pressure situations through the years — where one crucial play call could mean the difference between a win or loss.

But no game experience could prepare the new Seneca High School head football coach for his toughest task — recently administering CPR to a 14-month-old male infant who had stopped breathing at Fatz Cafe in Seneca.

Duncan was at the restaurant with a longtime Seneca supporter who had invited him to lunch. Operating Manager E.J. Washington, III joined the conversation with the pair, who had already been seated.

“We were discussing the program and what we want to do here,” Duncan said.

However, Washington was soon notified that an infant was in distress on the other side of the building and quickly left to respond. Duncan arose from the table immediately thereafter and followed closely behind.

Once he arrived where approximately 12 individuals were gathered, Duncan learned that an infant had apparently choked on some food and stopped breathing. While a request to contact 911 was issued, Duncan personally answered another request for a first responder. Although coaches are required to undergo annual CPR training, the fact that an infant was involved caused the coach to experience more than a little trepidation.

“The next thing I knew, I had an infant on my hands,” he said. “I was nervous and extremely worried.”

Performing CPR on an infant, Duncan said, is different from an adult in that the Heimlich Maneuver is not recommended. After cradling the head of the infant on his knee, he began administering back slaps. When no response was given, the coach then administered a finger sweep of the infant’s mouth before performing a chest slap.

Just as he was about to administer rescue breathing, Duncan noticed the infant had begun breathing on his own. What, in reality, had been a time lapse of less than two minutes seemed like a lifetime as far as the coach was concerned.

“The infant was very stressed when I got there and it didn’t look like a very good situation,” he said. “But it was the power of God that enabled things to turn out like they did.”

The infant was taken to the hospital, later released, and is now reportedly doing fine. Washington said things could have turned out much differently had it not been for Duncan’s willingness to get involved.

“He came to the need of someone he didn’t know in the community and the fact that he is a new member of the community makes this remarkable,” Washington said.

Seneca High School athletic director Duke Lee said the school is extremely proud of Coach Duncan.

“He was able to help the child by stepping up in that time of need,” Lee said. “That’s an awesome trait to have and we’re very pleased.”

But Duncan doesn’t consider himself a hero, adding, “I just happened to be there.”

“It was so real that it was unbelievable.”

Despite the fact that his profession requires it, Duncan said he has always taken CPR seriously because his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Laney Claire, was born with a congenital heart block and has experienced five open-heart surgeries during that time — ultimately leading to the installation of a pacemaker.

“I recommend everybody taking those classes because everybody needs to do it,” he said.

Washington agrees, adding that his restaurant is sending its management team — consisting of five salaried managers — for training that will be conducted by the Oconee County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“The Red Cross has offered to provide us with CPR training at no cost to us,” Washington said. “We’re going to take them up on their offer.”

Though he once experienced a similar situation at a different restaurant in which he was affiliated, where an elderly man choked to death on a cucumber, Washington said what took place the other day reinforced the importance of being proactive in case a similar experience were to ever occur again.

“This was kind of a wake up call,” he said.