KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Local referee Mark Kinch says he is thankful to be alive after he collapsed during Sporting Kansas City Academy’s Patterson Cup on June 8 and was saved, in part, by a pair of athletic trainers with Children's Mercy.
"He was ready to blow the whistle, and when he went to reach for his whistle, he just collapsed," said Karan Padmakumar, an athletic trainer with Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Center.
A Children's Mercy athletic trainer with the academy’s U14 team, Peyton Jensen, rushed to the ref's side.
"Initially, he started seizing. We first flipped him to his side to avoid choking on the tongue and allow him to stop doing that. We were checking pulse, checking breath rate," Jensen said.
The ref seized for several minutes, and they lost his pulse. When Kinch collapsed, Padmakumar grabbed the automated external defibrillator (AED) kit and rushed it over.
"We dropped off the AED, and I took over calling 911 because it was a 911 situation," Padmakumar said. "We have something called an emergency action plan set in place for situations like this. [I] kind of sprung into my role in that, which was get the gates open, get EMS on their way."
Because of their swift actions, EMS was able to get to the field quickly and rush the ref to the hospital in time for life-saving surgery. But the trainers say their actions weren't heroic — it's what they prepare for.
"That's what we want to push with this, it's really good to have medical staff out. Not just for the kids, but for everyone out there," Padmakumar said.
Jensen hopes more sports teams take a look at this incident and realize trainers are needed for all types of ages.
"I think that's where, a lot of times, I hope this situation shines a little bit of light on the importance of athletic training and just us always being aware and able to act with the amount of schooling and education we are trained to do," Jensen said.
Kinch, the ref, is recovering well. He had surgery, is doing cardiac rehab and hopes to return back to refereeing once he's better.
"I can say I am very blessed to be with the team I was around," Jensen said. "To be able to act accordingly and not feel like you were out there alone and just having everybody communicating calmly in that situation."