For National EMS Week, reporter Rebekah Sanders takes a lesson in hands-only CPR from AMR paramedics in the azcentral studio. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
Mesa Mountain View freshman football coach Crys Hollen can’t wait to coach his daughter Karstin this season when she joins his team as a receiver.
But for a moment last week- after he collapsed and lost consciousness at a passing competition- Hollen was fighting for his life.
He survived, thanks to a coach on another team.
The scare took place during a 7-on-7 passing competition hosted by Mountain View against freshman teams from Queen Creek Casteel and Mesa Skyline. Hollen was walking back after his team scored on a 10-play drive when he took a knee and collapsed.
The next thing he knew, he was in the hospital; a few days later, he was having surgery to have a defibrillator put in his chest.
Hollen, 42, who has four children, including two in the Mountain View football program, is at home resting comfortably now. He won’t be able to drive a car for three months which means he can’t do his construction job or work as a Lyft driver.
“I had just started having some heart problems a month and a half prior,” Hollen said. “I was getting some of that taken care of. I thought I was through that and had it under control. Then, this happened.”
Hollen said it wasn’t a heart attack that he had, but a ventricular fibrillation.
It could have resulted in cardiac arrest had nobody with first aid and CPR training had been around. And it was Casteel varsity defensive backs coach Kyle Kiger, trained in CPR, who quickly responded, performing compression to Hollen’s chest.
“It was a couple of minutes worth,” Kiger said. “It felt like forever. We rotated. Another person popped in. A lot of people who were there helped out.”
Finally, an AED defibrillator was brought out from the Mountain View coaches’ office and used, before paramedics arrived.
“I just did what anybody else would have done,” Kiger said. “As coaches, it’s a fraternity. We take care of each other. I wanted him to be able to see his wife and kids.”
Hollen said he hopes to be back next week with the Mountain View freshman football players. There are two more weeks of summer 7-on-7 competition.
His son Jeremiah, 16, plays football at Mountain View. His other son, Phoenix, 19, played at Mountain View two years ago.
Hollen has been part of the Mountain View football program for four years. This year, he looks forward to coaching his daughter.
“She wants to try it,” he said. “She played in a spring league and wrestles.
“For me, I’m thankful for the parents and coaches who were around. It’s easy to freeze up in a situation like that. They all kind of jumped in and took over.”
This hammers home the importance for CPR training, said Casteel head varsity football coach Spencer Stowers.
“When something like that happens, it definitely makes you appreciate that you have to take First Aid and CPR, make sure you have that up to date.”
A youcaring.com fundraiser was started to help with the Hollen family during this time.
More high school football: Arizona’s top 2020 prospects
More high school football: Top 10 quarterbacks for 2017 season
More high school football: Year-round practices mean programs go full throttle
To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at twitter.com/azc_obert.