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October 26, 2023

Heartstopping moment: Yaeger administers CPR to Plano West runner

Sohana Singh
Coppell Middle School East cross country coach Austin Yaeger poses in Coppell High School health science teacher Gary Beyer’s classroom on Oct. 23. Yaeger performed CPR on a collapsed student during a track meet and was able to get the student back into stable condition.

“Most people would say it was a heroic thing, that I jumped into action when I did,” Coppell Middle School East cross country coach Austin Yaeger said.“To me, I just felt like something needed to be done.”

On Oct. 13 at the District 6-6A Cross Country Championship meet in Flower Mound, Yaeger performed hands-only CPR to resuscitate a collapsed Plano West student athlete.

Due to Yaeger’s quick intervention, the athlete was able to promptly receive medical attention, and is currently in stable condition.

Yaeger was positioned at Station I on the cross country course when he noticed a varsity runner begin to slow. When he saw the runner fall to the ground and start to seize, he called for medical help. 

The runner continued seizing until he completely stopped, lying motionless on the trail.

“I experienced it with my dad before, he was diabetic and he had seizures, but he never stopped breathing, never stopped moving,” Yaeger said.

Yaeger jumped into action, relying on instinct to focus on even chest compressions. But located over a mile away from the start line with his phone battery trickling down, Yaeger was alienated from the outside world. 

There was no one else in close proximity, just Yaeger and the collapsed student. 

“On the inside, absolute chaos was going through my head,” Yaeger said. 

Yet he remained calm throughout the stressful situation, and continued to follow the guidance of medical personnel over the phone. Through his efforts, he was able to pull the runner back to consciousness. Medics arrived 10 minutes later to treat the student. 

With every passing second, cardiac arrest patients become more at risk for severe health complications, and even death.  Accordingly, all Coppell ISD coaches are required to be trained in CPR, so they can act immediately during an emergency. 

“We’re trained for that, but the minute where you have to actually apply it is completely different,” Coppell Middle School North coach LB Siebenmann said. “These kids who are running are top of top varsity boys, you just don’t expect them to have heart failure”

Yaeger’s handling of the situation is admired by his fellow Coppell coaches. He upholds a noble and modest character whether in an active emergency or in his day-to-day life leading physical education classes and coaching cross-country at CMSE.

“He’s one of the most selfless coaches I’ve ever worked with,” CMSE coach Kate Gilbert said. ”Of all the people this could have happened to, he’s the best.”

His inspiration for pursuing physical education stems from his own high school coach. Yaeger characterizes his old mentor, Stephen Guerrero as a man who led by example, and he still follows that example years later. 

“He was never a man of many words but he used his actions to show he cared for his student athletes,” Yaeger said. 

In his most formative years of life, Yaeger learned patience, modesty and how to be an effective leader from his kindred coach. But he initially doubted his abilities to be an effective coach. 

“You see so many coaches before you that have done great things and impacted lives,” Yaeger said. “I was wondering if I would be able to live up to something like that.”

But he has used these insecurities to push himself to excel at his job. He has taken on responsibility as a selected presenter at the annual Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD) convention to encourage healthy lifestyles.

There is much to learn from the passion Yaeger brings to cross country, and his quick crisis response skills. He shares the most important advice he learned from the experience.

“Stay calm and just focus,” Yaeger said. “It’s important to breathe and relax, knowing that the person in front of you is depending on you.” 

It is thanks to Yaeger that one heart continues to beat on.

 Follow @CHSCampusNews on X.

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About the Contributors
Manasa Borra
Manasa Borra, Staff Designer
Manasa Borra is a junior and staff designer at The Sidekick. She loves playing badminton and reading mystery novels in her spare time. You can contact her at [email protected].
Sohana Singh
Sohana Singh, Staff Photographer
Sohana Singh is a junior and a staff photographer for The Sidekick. She participates in robotics as a member of Technology Student Association at Coppell High School and plays the french horn for the Coppell Community Orchestra. Her favorite foods include sushi and Thai tea. Her favorite show is “Cowboy Bebop”, an anime series, while her favorite movie is “Inception”, though she had to watch it twice to understand. She enjoys reading classics, including Oliver Twist, Little Women, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In her free time, she loves to skateboard, play the piano, and play video games. She enjoys listening to indie music, specifically by Arctic Monkeys and Saint Motel. Sohana has traveled to many interesting places, including Alaska, Spain, and Greece. She loves to sightsee and take pictures. In the future, she hopes to pursue engineering with interests in creating and innovating. She especially enjoys learning about how things work. Through being a staff member of The Sidekick, she hopes to explore her interests and grow as a journalist. You can contact Sohana at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @sohana_4841.

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