“Best of the best” and “cream of the crop” are among the top phrases used to describe the more than 400 rising high school seniors that attend American Legion Hoosier Boys State at Trine University in Angola, Ind., every year. As the Department of Indiana's premier youth leadership program, Boys State is widely regarded for attracting some of the finest young leaders throughout Indiana to simulate the state’s political process. Never has the quality and caliber of attendees been more apparent than on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.
Hoosier Boys State delegate Cole Walker of Greentown approached a staff member and mentioned he was having difficulty breathing during a traditional softball game. Without warning, Walker's legs gave out from under him and he stopped breathing. As the staff on the scene quickly and calmly assessed the situation, delegate Josh Walston of Versailles rushed in and said, “If you need me, I’m a trained EMS.”
Working together as a team in these precious moments, staff members Wyatt Vukobratovich and Robert Kelley worked with Walston and another delegate, Sean Bacha of Edinburgh, to keep Walker alive.
Walston, trained in lifesaving techniques, assessed the situation, checked Walker's vital signs and administered CPR until emergency medical technicians arrived. Upon their arrival, Walston provided the EMTs and medical personnel with Walker's vitals and gave a situation report. Emergency crews airlifted Walker to Cameron Memorial Community Hospital in Fort Wayne to get the critical treatment he needed.
“Walston’s experience and quick thinking saved a young man’s life, and we are all extremely grateful and proud of his actions,” said Department of Indiana Commander Larry Lowry. “If it wasn’t for the actions of this knowledgeable young man who acted swiftly and selflessly to care for his fellow Hoosier Boys Stater, things could have turned very tragic.”
The doctors determined that Walker suffered from athletic heart syndrome, also known as athlete’s heart. They were, however, uncertain what triggered this event in an otherwise very healthy teen. What is known is that not many people survive such a sudden and rare occurrence.
Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of the Boys State staff and delegates, Walker is on the road to recovery and doing well. It is “nothing short of remarkable,” said Scott Weyler, associate director of Hoosier Boys State. “This situation had the potential to be truly tragic. Given the scenario we were faced with, I don’t think there could’ve been a more positive outcome.”
Hoosier Boys State Director Bob Oeth said, “The calm, professional and immediate reaction of Hoosier Boys State counselors to recognize the severity of the situation and make the appropriate call to emergency medical services is a credit to their training and commitment to the safety of the program’s participants.”
Walston, Vukobratovich, Kelley and Bacha were presented with certificates of merit at Hoosier Boys State’s closing ceremony. Walston also was awarded a $1,000 scholarship during The American Legion Department of Indiana's 98th Convention in Indianapolis July 9, for his actions.
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