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May 17, 2013

Millersville players help couple resuscitate ailing child

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The Millersville University baseball team came up with a great save this week, but it had nothing to do with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament being played at Point Stadium.

A trip for an after-midnight snack on Wednesday morning ended with seven Marauders being hailed as heroes by a local family after they helped save a little boy who wasn’t breathing.

After the team arrived in Johnstown, players Evan King, Zach Stone, Tyler McDonald, Dave Pine, Tyler Orris, Dan Stoltzfus and Tyler Thomas walked to the Sheetz store at 208 Haynes St. Just as they were about to reach their destination, a car pulled up near them. A man and woman carrying a little boy jumped out and frantically asked for help.

“They got out of the car and started yelling,” said King, a senior second baseman. “We were all confused and didn’t know what was going on.”

Megan Norman and her husband, Shane, of the West End, had been taking their 21-month-old son, Braydin, to the emergency room. Megan Norman said that the boy had a temperature of 104.3 and had been alert, but as they entered Kernville he became unresponsive.

“He was real stiff, taking a seizure,” the mother said. “He ended up vomiting and choking on it. … His head was thrown back and his eyes were in the back of his head. He had gone limp and quit breathing.”

Megan Norman said that she started to dial 9-1-1, but in her haste to help her son, she dropped her phone and never completed the call. But the Millersville players quickly rushed to her aid.

“We all ran towards them and we just assessed the situation,” said McDonald, a redshirt sophomore third baseman. “I asked if anyone was CPR certified because our school offers a class for it. No one said anything, so I was like ‘All right, I used to be CPR certified’ so I kind took over – I wouldn’t say took over, because we all helped, but I knew what I was doing.”

McDonald said he told the boy’s mother to move the toddler’s tongue so he couldn’t swallow it and had Braydin’s father take off his jacket and place it under the boy’s head to help clear his airway.

Megan Norman said that she and her husband had been trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation years earlier but that the details of the life-saving techniques eluded them during the moment of panic.

“I gave him CPR for 30 seconds before the guy told me to tilt his head back,” Megan Norman said. “Something that simple made all of the difference.”

Stone, a redshirt junior third baseman for Millersville, was holding Braydin’s hand and could tell that the CPR was working.

“A minute after that he started being a lot more responsive,” Stone said. “His eyes were opening up, he was looking back and forth and then he started squeezing my hand pretty hard, so we knew he was coming back.”

Meanwhile, Pine had dialed 9-1-1 and made sure an ambulance was on its way. The sophomore catcher was quick to credit his teammates for their reactions.

“Stone and Tyler and Evan did a good job making sure the parents were calm,” he said. “I know they thanked us afterward because they were freaking out. When it’s your own kid, it just gets kind of crazy. Even though you might know what you’re doing, you’re struggling because there’s so much anxiety and excitement involved. “

Thomas, a freshman second baseman, said that the situation was a tense one but that the players’ training helped them remain calm.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” he said. “All of the stuff we do throughout the year – it’s a lot more than baseball; it’s mental stuff, too – I think that kind of helped us out. Nobody is really prepared for that, but I think we made the most of it.”

The players stayed with the Norman family until the ambulance arrived and helped Braydin remain calm.

“Thomas gave him a Millersville baseball bracelet,” said Orris, a freshman shortstop. “Tyler put it around his wrist right before they put him in the ambulance.”

That was actually the only way that the Norman family knew who to credit for the helping hands. Megan Norman said that she couldn’t remember which school the players were from, but the yellow bracelet with “ ‘Ville baseball” on it helped her mother track down some team members.

With Braydin’s temperature under control on Friday, the Norman family went to watch the Marauders in action. The players had another gift for the youngster – a baseball signed by the entire team – and the players who were a part of the scary scene on Wednesday night posed for a picture with the family.

“We saw him when we were warming up, which was pretty cool,” said Stoltzfus, a freshman first baseman. “We got to go up and talk to him.”

The moment was special for Braydin and his father, who are baseball fans, and for Megan, who said she wasn’t a fan of the sport before, but is now – thanks to the Millersville players.

“It was just a good thing they were there,” she said. “A lot of people these days would have just kept walking.”

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