March 18, 2018  

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Athletic Training Students Act as First Responders, Save Woman’s Life

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The quick actions of three athletic training students from The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Kinesiology saved a woman’s life Oct. 24.

Nicki Jackson, Zach Jones and Jessica Ringo were in Charlotte, N.C. with the Southern Miss football team as part of their practicum requirements. At 5:30 a.m. the students were on their way to the lobby to meet the equipment staff when fate took over.

Finding the elevators broken, the students walked down eight flights of stairs mistakenly thinking the lobby was on the first floor, not the third. Their mistake was a lucky one. 

“When we passed the pool and fitness center Zach and Nicki saw a woman laying by the pool breathing heavily,” said Ringo, a native of Mandeville, La. and senior athletic training major. “At first we thought that she had just been working out and was taking a break but then we saw she was in business attire. Zach stuck his head in the room and yelled to see if she was alright, but when she didn't answer we heard her aspirating and knew something was wrong.”

Ringo and Jones checked the women’s level of consciousness and breathing rate, and made a preliminary diagnosis. “The woman was in her late 20s to early 30s, had a pulse of 40 beats per minute, and was foaming at the mouth, as well as having seizure-like activity,” said Ringo. “She was unconscious, so Zach and I tried to open her mouth and roll her over so that she could breathe normally, however she was resisting us subconsciously.”

A resting adult heart rate is generally 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Jackson was attempting to dial 911 but the call was dropped multiple times. She needed to quickly get to the lobby to place the call. “I decided to try the elevator again,” said Jackson, a native of Mandeville, La. and senior athletic training major. “God was really looking after that woman because the elevator worked and I was able to get to the lobby. That was the only time during the situation that the elevator worked.”

Ringo said the women came in and out of consciousness several times and they kept track of her vital signs until she became completely conscious. “We encouraged the woman to keep talking and stay awake,” said Jackson. “She was still a little lucid as she was knowledgeable that she had brought coffee with her but was reaching in the opposite direction of the cup.”

When the paramedics arrived the students explained the situation and then had to quickly depart to setup the field and training room for the 11 a.m. football game.

“If Nicki and Zach had not seen that woman and decided to help, it is highly likely that she would have died from seizing,” said Ringo. “I was proud of the fact that we were all able to remember our training and keep our composure during the entire situation.”

Jackson said that being a first responder means recognizing when someone is experiencing an injury or illness and taking care of them appropriately and in the best way possible.

“Being a first responder simply means that we get to be a part of something greater than ourselves, and use our knowledge for the betterment of others,” agreed Ringo. “There is no higher calling than that.”

For information about the Southern Miss School of Kinesiology, visit