Brandon's Blog: Softball Staff's Decision Making Saves a Life
From left: Carol Hutchins, Bonnie Tholl, Jennifer Brundage

May 14, 2011

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on different topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All of his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

Competitive sports are not life and death, but the lessons learned sure can translate to everyday life, and in some cases saving one's life.

On Wednesday, April 27, at our Wilpon Softball Complex, quick thinking, training and the resolve to win paid off big time. Not on the field but in the team lounge as the Wolverine softball coaches literally saved the life of a recruit's father.

The softball team had just finished their practice session on the field and Carol Hutchins, Bonnie Tholl and Jennifer Brundage were sitting down with a recruit and her father, watching a highlight video of Michigan softball. At the conclusion of the video, the father's head tilted back and Hutch thought he was looking up at the lights.

They called out the father's name. He was unresponsive, his eyes were open. That's when the 'team' went into action.

Tholl immediately called 911, while Hutchins and Brundage tried to lay the father down flat. Once he was on the floor, Hutch immediately gave him CPR, starting with two short mouth-to-mouth breaths.

Jennifer quickly went to get the automated external defibrillator (AED) located at the front door, while Hutch was working on the compression portion of the CPR. Once the AED was brought over, Hutch opened the man's shirt and the defibrillator pads were placed on his chest.

Brundage yelled at Hutch to get her hands off the father. The AED must first analyze the situation and any outside influence would not allow the rescue equipment to do its job.

Once the AED analyzed the individual, the AED read 'Shock Advised.' They are words that our softball coaches will never forget.

All three coaches looked at the AED to make sure what they read was what they needed to do. At that point, they applied the shock.

According to Jennifer, he didn't bounce, the shock made him jump.

"I don't think any description about the bounce effect does it justice until you see it," said Brundage.

While all this was happening, the softball freshmen were in the locker room, talking and calming the recruit, while the emergency took place in the team lounge. All this happened in minutes, maybe seconds. The ambulance arrived and the recruit's father was rushed to the University of Michigan Hospital.

Our coaching staff jumped into action having taken training courses on CPR and the proper use of an AED.

While CPR might look easy and the AED can be easily used, it was the practice and training they received that gave our coaches the confidence they needed to save someone's life.

Fortunately, this is a story with happy ending. The father survived and the Michigan softball coaching staff is credited with the biggest save of their careers. They saved a man's life.

Training, practice and the resolve of this staff to save the recruit's father made these few minutes more important than any sporting event could ever be. Our coaching staff of Hutch, Bonnie and Jennifer did not just make our athletic department team proud, they made us realize we have true heroes in our midst.

This wasn't just a game; it was truly a matter of life and death. This time they beat death. That is a big time victory.

Congratulations to our softball staff and team, we are so proud of all of you.

Go Blue!

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