OSU tennis athletic trainer helps save man’s life at ITA Fall Championships

Kara

Kara Wehmeyer was running a couple Cowgirl tennis players through resistance band routines before their doubles match when she sensed something was off.

The Oklahoma State women’s tennis team was in Newport Beach, California, to compete in the ITA National Fall Championships. Around 6 p.m. on Friday, Wehmeyer saw the head official and athletic trainer walk off the court and decided to investigate.

Had she not been so curious, the night may have turned out very differently.

Wehmeyer heard them say something about an athlete being down and begun searching her way through the labyrinth of courts at the Newport Beach Tennis Club. She wanted to help in any way she could.

“They were saying something about looking for the right court,” Wehmeyer said. “The layout was kind of confusing, so I was seeing if maybe I could spot the person.

“Then I hear someone yell, ‘He’s back here! Has 911 been called? I think he’s having a heart attack.’”

The court the man collapsed on was in a sectioned off area of the facility, so there weren’t many spectators. The coaches moved any players away.

When they reached the man, he was unresponsive. He wasn’t breathing. He had no pulse.

Wehmeyer and the head athletic trainer instantly jumped into CPR. She took over chest compressions while the trainer got an automatic external defibrillator ready, which they luckily had on site. Wehmeyer credited the athletic trainer for being prepared. Otherwise, she doesn’t think the man would have had a chance.

They shocked the man with the defibrillator and did some more compressions.

That’s when he miraculously came to.

“No athletic trainer can handle anything traumatic on their own,” Wehmeyer said. “I just went over there to see if there was anything I can do to help. Once I heard 911 had been called, I just know there’s so much that can be done before (the paramedics) get here.”

Wehmeyer, 24, is in her first season as Cowgirl tennis’ athletic trainer.

A native of Holts Summit, Missouri, Wehmeyer comes from a family that was heavily involved in fire and emergency medical services. She’s a third-generation firefighter, and her parents are assistant fire chiefs back home.

Wehmeyer followed in her family’s footsteps and got her EMS license and worked in that field for a short while. But there was one aspect of the emergency field that she didn’t like.

She wanted to be able to communicate and establish connections with the people she worked with.

“(As an EMT), once you drop a patient off at the hospital then essentially you don’t know the outcome and you don’t hear anything from that patient,” Wehmeyer said. “But as an athletic trainer, I get to do emergency care, rehabilitation and I also get to build relationships with the athletes.”

She played all sorts of sports growing up, and decided athletic training was a way to combine sports and her medical and safety background. Wehmeyer heard about a job opening at Oklahoma State and it was an instant match.

Wehmeyer said she’s had a great time in her new position, but she couldn’t have expected what transpired that night. It was just a routine day on the job until she instinctually sprang into action. Coach Chris Young tweeted about Wehmeyer heroics, deeming her the team’s MVP that night.

She’s just relieved that she was in the position to help.

“I came down for the interview and I just fell in love with OSU,” Wehmeyer said. “It’s gonna offer me a lot of great opportunities. I felt like this is where God was calling me so here I am.”

“I mean no one likes to see that, but it’s always a great day whenever you have a good outcome.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com