TWINSBURG, Ohio- By every measure, Colin Bowser was a healthy, active 14-year-old who loved playing football.
“He loves football. He’s very athletic , caring. We jokingly call him the gentle giant. When he started playing football he was always the big kid and didn’t want to hurt the little kids so this year, he’s starting to really flourish on the line and coaches are working with him and he’s doing great,” said his mother, Necolia Huisman.
On September 16, however, Bowser says he was running drills with his teammates when he didn’t feel right.
“I started running and then I was running for a little bit and I didn’t feel good so I sat down,” said Bowser, explaining that he is not usually the one who sits down at practice if he doesn’t feel well.
Bowser says his coach escorted him into the locker room to get some water where the last thing he remembers is passing out.
A trainer who had just arrived, immediately realized the seriousness of the situation and started CPR while coaches called 911.
“She started CPR immediately and by the second time through the CPR I took a deep breath and then the fire paramedics came in,” said Bowser.
Derrick Kulcsar and Jeff Hall were the first paramedics to arrive.
“We observed our patient lying on the floor and we hooked him up to our heart monitor and it showed a rhythm that needed attention,” said Hall.
The condition, called ventricular fibrillation, is extremely dangerous and life-threatening without immediate intervention.
“Basically the heart is just fibrillating; there’s no actual beat and there’s no blood flow so the heart is just quivering,” he added.
“I think everything came into play with Colin — from recognizing that he was in cardiac arrest to the trainer initiating CPR immediately to the coaches calling 911, and our response time going to the scene– just everything lined up for Colin,” said Kulcsar.
Kevin Rott also responded to assist as part of a crew on a fire truck.
“Your initial thought is, you know, this is serious; this is bad. You go through many different stages of mental state; soon as you get on scene, your mental training kicks in,” said Rott.
Medics were able to shock Bowser’s heart back into a normal rhythm.
He was taken to a Cleveland hospital where he was given an internal defibrilator.
Later, he returned to Twinsburg Fire Station #1 to thank the medics who helped save his life.
“I can’t really describe how thankful I am because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be standing here with this interview right now,” said Bowser.
“You need a mental boost like this that we do make a difference,” said firefighter and paramedic, Brian Laughlin, who responded to the scene from Twinsburg Fire Station #2.
Laughlin credits the quick-thinking of the high school coaches and trainers for starting the process that saved Bowser’s life.
“Any saves that I have seen in the majority of my career is the people that are saved are people that have CPR initiated prior to our arrival; that CPR you can’t say enough about it,” said Laughlin.
“Had (the head coach) not walked with him, had Megan (the trainer) not been there to start CPR, had the medics not got there as quick as they were he would not be standing here today,” said Huisman.
Bowser says he expects to be on the sidelines when Twinsburg’s varsity team plays on Thursday evening and after passing a stress test hopes to be able to return to the field himself.