Sandy Springs teacher’s quick-thinking saves life of youth basketball player who collapsed

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — A metro high school teacher is being called a hero after she saved the life of a teen.

Whitley Witherspoon shared with Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik the scary experience at a youth basketball game last month.

“The biggest thing is just knowing that he’s OK,” she said.

Witherspoon teaches at Riverwood High School in Sandy Springs, but she’s also a trainer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

During a recent game, she got a frantic call for help.

“They called me and they said, ‘Hey, we’ve got an athlete down in the other gym.’”


Witherspoon is trained in CPR but she first grabbed an automated external defibrillator, or AED, just in case.

“This is actually the first time in my career where I’ve had to physically use an AED on someone.”

The shock did its job.

“After the shock was administered, and he showed, like semi bits of more consciousness, but we continued doing CPR,” Witherspoon said.

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The teen’s mother did not want to speak publicly about the incident, but said she was thankful for Witherspoon’s quick-thinking.

Witherspoon said what happened underscores the importance of schools and other public locations having defibrillators nearby when emergencies occur.”

“When you can have access to an AED as quickly and possibly in these situations, it can literally be the difference between life and death,” she said.

The National Institutes of Health say about 18,000 Americans have what’s called “shockable cardiac” arrest in public and in front of witnesses.

The NIH also says about 1,700 people are saved every year by people using an AED rather than waiting for EMS to arrive.

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