KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two Children’s Mercy athletic trainers are being credited for saving the life of a referee during a soccer tournament this summer after he experienced a heart attack moments before the start of the second half of a match.
Mark Kinch was getting ready to signal the start of the second half of a U-14 Sporting Kansas City Academy game against the Nashville academy at Swope Soccer Village when he fell face first and began seizing.
Lucky for Kinch, Karan Padmakumar and Payton Jensen of Children’s Mercy Medicine Center, and the visiting team’s athletic trainer Jorge Santana, were nearby.
Santana was the first person to reach Kinch followed by Jensen and Padmakumar.
Padmakumar brought over the AED (automated external defibrillator) and called emergency services while the other two prepared the device.
“It’s not only having the plan, but everyone knowing what to do,” Jensen said. “Having a team that is cohesive and who knows their roles is super important in an emergency situation.”
Lisa Wedel, who is also a Children’s Mercy employee, was in the crowd as a parent and jumped into action to assist.
“No one panicked. Karan and Payton acted like they had run this scenario a thousand times,” Wedel said. “I was so incredibly impressed with Karan, Payton, and all of the SKC Academy staff involved with how they worked together to get Mark the help he so clearly needed.”
Jensen and Santana administered CPR and an AED shock while Padmakumar prepared the scene for emergency crews to arrive.
“Time just disappears when you’re in a situation like that,” Padmakumar said.
Kinch said he remembered waking up the next day in the hospital and was grateful for the swift care provided by the staff.
“Part of my annual [referee] recertification is safe sport training,” Kinch said. “Some of that is recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest. I never imagined I’d be witnessing it—or be the one it happened to.”
The quick thinking and action taken by the three athletic trainers was instrumental in saving Kinch from death and any long-lasting effects, according to doctors.
“I’m very, very grateful for their quick response,” Kinch said. “The fact that I’m still here is because of them.”