On the long drive back to Baltimore from visiting family in Nashville on Monday night, Jeremy Parr knew that something important had happened by the volume of calls and texts he was receiving.

When he found out what the commotion was all about, the head athletic trainer at Loyola Blakefield was transported back to an “eerily similar” situation involving then-Loyola freshman Peter Laake during a varsity lacrosse game against McDonogh School on April 16, 2021.

As the Eagles motored down the field in the final minute of the first quarter hoping to score in transition, Laake, a defenseman, “slid” — a lacrosse term meaning that he left the McDonogh player he was covering to defend the player with the ball — inadvertently toward the shot that hit him in the chest from close range.

”He took two steps and then collapsed,” Parr remembered.

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That’s when Parr, primary care sports medicine physician Aaron Tracy, a fellow at the University of Maryland and Medstar Health, Parr’s student intern Erin Brown and McDonogh athletic trainer Jared Braverman sprang into action.

Parr said that he immediately asked Braverman to bring the AED, or automated external defibrillator, to the scene while Dr. Tracy administered CPR – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation — to the fallen athlete. Baltimore County Emergency Medical Services were also directed to the scene and arrived a couple of minutes later, giving even more heft to a group of nurses and at least one other physician on the scene.

”Initially, we thought he might just have had the wind knocked out of him,” Tracy said. “But when we (Tracy, Parr and Brown) checked for a pulse (at various points on the body), we couldn’t find one.”

Lake was gasping for air, what Tracy said was called “agonal” breathing that often plagues victims of stroke or cardiac arrest.

Tracy, a self-proclaimed “lacrosse nut” who played the sport at Moses Brown School in Rhode Island and Ohio’s Kenyon College, said that he was not assigned to be at the game that day.

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However, he said that he couldn’t pass up the chance to watch the powerhouse Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference squads compete at Ed Hargaden Field in Towson.

Fortunately, he was there and he continued to apply the correct compressions until it was ascertained that a shockable rhythm via the AED was also needed to revive Laake for a condition known as commotio cordis — a potentially fatal condition brought about by a reverse perfect-storm of events caused by blunt trauma to the chest at a precise moment during a heartbeat.

It has been speculated that Buffalo’s Hamlin was also afflicted by commotio cordis after absorbing a blow to his chest while making a tackle. It has been confirmed that he experienced cardiac arrest and had CPR administered on the field.

Once Parr administered the jolt, “It took a few seconds,” said Tracy, currently practicing in Houston. “But Peter opened his eyes and recognized everyone. He then tried to sit up, until we told him to calm down.”

“We basically jump-started his heart back to its natural rhythm by using hands-only CPR and an on-field AED,” Parr said. “He woke up a little disoriented, but then he asked if he could go back in the game.”

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Laake left the field that day, none the worse for wear, primarily because of safety measures employed by a well-trained team with proper equipment. Several weeks later he returned to complete the season and is still playing lacrosse and basketball at Blakefield. In fact, he will play college lacrosse at the University of Maryland, one the nation’s most elite programs.

”Jeremy and I had been working well together that year,” Tracy said. “It’s really fortunate for Peter that Loyola had the proper resources in place, or it could have been a completely different outcome.”

Should another similar incident occur locally, private school sports league administrators for the MIAA (boys) and the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (girls), say that they take safety protocols seriously.

Even so, both organizations leave it up to the individual schools to provide athletic trainers, emergency plans and equipment for athletic events.

The major exception, however, are all championship finals in which athletic trainers and emergency personnel and vehicles, “are provided by the league to ensure maximum coverage for safety and immediate response,” said Sue Thompson, the IAAM executive director.

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The same goes for MIAA championship events, according to MIAA executive director Paul Bernstorf.

Bernstorf said that when he was a football coach, he was always fearful of any player sustaining a major injury.

”What happened last night (on Monday Night Football) and at Loyola was really scary,” he said. “That’s something I was always really fearful of. But it’s a tribute to our trainers that they know what to do — and they do the right thing 99 percent of the time.”

Bernstorf said that while there aren’t enough AEDs to be at every game or meet, the devices are more warranted at high-contact events, such as football and lacrosse.

According to a bill passed by the Maryland legislature in 2006, each county’s board of education is required to develop an AED program in order to have the device and a trained operator on hand at all athletic events.

Moreover and more recently, the Elijah Gotham Act became a state law last July, requiring venue-specific emergency plans for AEDs, heat acclimatization, cervical spinal and closed head injuries for student athletes.

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