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Friday, May 13, 2011

High school tragedy averted by local heroes

Two Comsewogue coaches revive student who collapsed in gym

By Elana GlowatzWrite The Author
Port Times Record
May 12, 2011 | 12:33 PM

The three-on-three intramural basketball game last Wednesday evening, May 4, had barely started when junior Hope Reindl collapsed on the floor of the Comsewogue High School gymnasium.

Coaches Rick Miekley and Justin Seifert came to the girl's aid. Reindl was unconscious, but still breathing, the coaches said. However, the girl's breathing became labored and soon stopped completely.

Comsewogue coaches Justin Seifert and Rick Miekley, seen here with Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher, were honored this week by the County Legislature for their ‘brave acts.’ Photo from Matt DeVincenzo. (click for larger version)
"When we got to her, she wasn't responding," Seifert said.

"Her face started to turn purple" and she didn't have a pulse, Miekley said. He started CPR while Seifert called for an ambulance and sent a student to retrieve the automated external defibrillator that is mounted on the hallway wall between the doors to the gym. Together, the coaches put the device's pads on Hope's chest.

Seifert said the AED "detected her heart was in distress" and advised them to clear and shock her, which they did, then continued CPR until the paramedics arrived. "That was the longest probably three and a half to four minutes of our lives," Seifert said.

According to Miekley, the AED's record shows Hope returned to a normal heartbeat after it delivered the shock. He said the paramedics hooked up intravenous lines and intubated Hope before rushing her to the hospital.

Carl Reindl, Hope's father, said Monday his daughter is doing better and has been home from the hospital since Saturday. "She's eating, doing everything a normal kid would do." Still, Reindl said his daughter would be staying home from school for two weeks on doctor's orders.

The Reindl family lives around the corner from the high school, Carl said, and his wife was able to get to the school while Hope was still on the gym floor. He was at a diner nearby and hurried over as well.

Carl said Hope doesn't have a history of heart problems and has been in top condition playing softball year-round for the past five years. He called the incident at the gym "just one of those things."

The fast action of the coaches "saved my daughter's life," Carl said. "There's no doubt about it."

Hope Reindl, a varsity softball player at Comsewogue high school, is currently at home recovering. Photo from Carl Reindl. (click for larger version)
Seifert said Hope is "one of the most remarkable young ladies I've ever met," adding she is strong to have fought through something like this.

Miekley called it a "miracle" that Hope pulled through.

Although the coaches are certified yearly in CPR, neither Miekley nor Seifert had ever faced a situation like that before. "When I started CPR, it was just surreal," Miekley said. Although he was in disbelief, he said, "it was a matter of remaining calm and just going through the motions."

Seifert said the situation was the most frightening and intense of his life, but "not much goes through your head except her at that moment."

According to Athletic Director Matt DeVincenzo, Seifert and Miekley received a proclamation May 10 from the Suffolk County Legislature for their "brave acts." He said he is proud of them and "very thankful that my coaches are well-trained and they kept their composure." From his perspective, the athletic director said Hope's well-being "far exceeds any state championship."

Principal Joe Coniglione said defibrillators are located in the main hallways of the high school. Coniglione said AEDs had never been used before last Wednesday "and we never plan on using them again."