Athletic Trainer and AT Student Save The Life of a Northwest Florida Athlete
Andrews Institute athletic trainers (ATs) are passionate about supporting and helping athletes on and off the field, court and at all athletic venues. Many people may not realize how they help behind the scenes too. One player’s mother, Brooke, shares her forever gratitude for an Andrews AT and a University of West Florida Master of Science AT student saving her daughter’s life before a game even began.
In the words of Brooke Ward:
“On Jan. 28, 2023, an Andrews Institute athletic trainer and a UWF athletic training student saved my daughter, Emma Ward’s, life. I wanted to reach out to share our story and ensure I gave recognition to both Tera Malarik (sports medicine outreach department) and Anthony Perea-Quijano (UWF athletic training student).
This all happened in Foley, Alabama, at the Pounders Open Volleyball Tournament. Emma was warming up on the court, and her face was really, really red. She went to the restroom to put water on her face to see if she could cool down. One of her teammates came back to the court to tell the coach that something was wrong with Emma. At this point, she was sweating profusely, and her face was discolored and flushed. I immediately knew something was wrong, so I put Emma’s arms around my shoulders, and I put my arm around her waist and walked her to the athletic training room. I remember thinking to myself that this was a cardiac event, and in my mind I was saying, ‘Is this truly happening?’
When I arrived at the training room, Tera and Anthony were both there. Without both of them, this story would be very different. I started talking with Tera right away and telling her that I was thinking my daughter was having a cardiac episode. Tera started asking questions to both Emma and me to gain understanding of symptoms and anything useful so she could help. Anthony called 911 and coordinated with emergency management services (EMS). He was relaying all the info to the EMS team on the phone while Tera was helping us. Emma was deteriorating pretty quickly. I was scared. Her body was hot to the touch, and she was not getting relief. Tera said things like, ‘Emma, breathe in with me. Emma, breathe out with me.’ She also used an ice bag over her clothes to try to cool down her body while asking more questions. (Among her other allergies, Emma is allergic to cold, so we cannot put ice directly on her or she will go into anaphylactic shock).
During this, Anthony went outside to meet EMS and bring them directly back to where we were. Tera asked me to take off her shoes and socks to cool down her body. Tera also asked me if we could take Emma’s jersey off. Once we did, we both saw that Emma was covered completely in hives. This is when I realized she was having an extreme allergic reaction. Tera asked me if I had an Epi pen, and I gave her the Epi pen we had, and she administered it. All the while, Emma is experiencing labored breathing at this point, and I could tell it wasn’t enough.
Simultaneous to all this, three paramedics arrived (thanks to Anthony who had relayed that it was an allergic reaction) and immediately put Emma on a stretcher and worked to get her stabilized and ready for transport. She received more epinephrine and Benadryl on our way to the hospital. Once we were brought to the ER, we were greeted outside by a doctor and staff, and Emma was also given a steroid shot. She was eventually stabilized.
Later that evening while I was sitting in the ER room with Emma, my phone started to ring. I answered it, almost unthinking, and it was Tera. She called me to check on Emma. She didn’t have to do that, but it meant so much to me.
I want to recognize both Tera and Anthony. They set the tone for us. They displayed complete professionalism. Both were calm and collected. Both composed. They did everything they could do.
This field of work is their true calling. Tera asked great questions and took great care of Emma in those moments. Anthony relayed important details so the paramedics were prepared. They were ready, and my husband and I are thankful. They saved my daughter’s life. We still have Emma because they were there.”
As Brooke said, the role of an AT is a calling. We're glad Tera and Anthony were there to help Emma and her mom in their time of need. The collaborative care highlighted in this story helps us all be a better, stronger community.
Editor's note: Pictures in this article feature:
-Emma Ward with her mom, dad and sister, Brooke, Mike and Alexa at Pensacola Bike Build in December, 2022.
-Emma and Alexa Ward on Pensacola Beach.
-Emma Ward being reunited with the Andrews Institute athletic trainer and UWF athletic training student she and her family credit with saving her life (Tera Malarik and Anthony Perea-Quijano.)