October 13, 2010

Former Athlete and Athletic Trainer Saves a Life

DAHLONEGA, GA – Former North Georgia women's soccer player dismisses the term "heroic" being used to describe her actions when a Forsyth County football player collapsed during practice this summer. Katie Caughell said she just did what she had been trained to do.

"I did what any certified athletic trainer would do and gave Josh the proper care he deserved," Caughell, who earned a bachelor's degree in athletic training through the Athletic Training Education Program at North Georgia, said. "The ATEP program at North Georgia definitely prepared me for the situation. Of course, it was a very scary situation, but I knew it was important to stay calm and in control; if I kept a level head, everyone around me would follow."

Caughell, an athletic trainer for the North Forsyth High School football team through a partnership between the school and North Georgia, had to think fast at an August practice when student-athlete Josh Haddock slumped over and began convulsing moments after complaining to Caughell that he had a headache. She called 911, but Haddock also needed immediate care -- he was having difficulty breathing and was vomiting. Caughell took steps to make sure he could get enough air and wouldn't choke, continuing until paramedics arrived.

Haddock had to undergo brain surgery and doctors and family members say he may not have survived without Caughell's actions. He continues to recover and Caughell has visited him in the hospital.

"Josh's mom said it was a perfect relay race where no one dropped the baton, and I believe that to be the truth," Caughell said. "I did my part, EMS did their part, and then the doctors took over and did their part."

Caughell credits not only the knowledge she gained from her classes at North Georgia, but professors Derek Suranie, coordinator of the Athletic Training Program and the university's acting associate athletic director, and Jessie Poole with making her ready to face an emergency situation.

"Having such amazing teachers, mentors and certified athletic trainers to learn from and emulate is really a big part of why I was able to do my job in a successful manner," she said. "I don't think I can adequately verbalize how outstanding I believe the ATEP program is at North Georgia."

Suranie said he is proud of Caughell and the program.

"I can't tell you the pride I have in my heart when I see a graduate of our program impact another individuals life," he said.  "All the hard work that our faculty/staff and students put in on a daily basis to insure that any situation that arises will be handled professionally and calmly has paid off."    

Caughell, a native of Clearwater, Fla., played for the North Georgia women's soccer team during the fall of 2006, recording three goals and two assists in 16 games. Two of her three goals were game-winners for a team that went 8-8-2 in their second year as member of NCAA Division II and the Peach Belt Conference.

She was a member of the North Georgia chapter of Iota Tau Alpha, the honor society for athletic training education, and was president her senior year. She also was the school's representative to the Georgia Athletic Trainers Association her senior year. She currently is finishing up her master's degree in public administration.