Potomac Duncan Seguin, 16, saved his co-referee’s life at a Labor Day soccer tournament in Olney last fall.
Last Wednesday, March 21, Montgomery County honored the Winston Churchill High School junior in a ceremony for “Everyday Heroes” at the Public Safety Training Academy in Rockville.
“There clearly is a choice when there is danger when one goes from the ordinary to the extraordinary,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “It is a real pleasure for me to take part in this ceremony that recognizes the finest in human nature; the willingness to do whatever one can to save a life.”
County Council President Roger Berliner told Duncan and four other “Every Day Heroes” how grateful he and the county are. “You are the people that make us proud. You didn’t think about it, ‘Should I get involved, should I help?’ You instantly took over,” Berliner said.
In such circumstances, “None of us can be sure how we would act. We do know you acted as heroes,” said Councilmember Phil Andrews. “We owe you, we honor you, you honor us for what you do for our county.”
Fire Chief Richard Bowers served as the master of ceremonies last Wednesday and said that the fire service and community is strengthened by actions of people like Duncan Seguin.
Bowers described the actions that Duncan took, and played the 911 tape that offered a glimpse how Duncan and two parents on the sideline acted together, instantly, to save the referee’s life even though the three had never met.
“This is a cardiac save,” Bowers said.
Parents thought something wasn’t altogether right when the game started last Sept. 3, 2011, said Lindsey Young, a parent of one of the U-15 players. She and others noticed that the head referee kept to the center half circle while officiating the Olney Boys and Girls Club Labor Day Tournament game at William H. Farquhar Middle School.
When the referee ventured into one half of the field, he collapsed, said Young, a physical education teacher with Loudoun County Public Schools and a nurse.
“I tried to get breaths in first, but I couldn’t,” said Young.
Chris Trainer, another parent, tried breathing life back into the referee, while Duncan Seguin, who was co-officiating the game as a linesman, began chest compressions on the referee’s heart. Young offered coaching to both as they worked as a team to save the referee’s life.
“As soon as the referee collapsed, Duncan immediately went into action,” said Fire Chief Bowers. “Duncan never hesitated or stopped pumping his chest.”
Young gave the report to the EMTs when they arrived. “He’s not breathing,” she said.
“I really felt he was not going to make it. Every time we would take a breath, he would become blue or purple. It was definitely emotional,” she said.
The referee was defibrillated twice in the medic unit on the way to the hospital, before immediate heart surgery.
Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham read a letter the referee wrote to Duncan after his recovery.
“You impacted my life as much as anyone has before,” he wrote. “I was a few minutes from death.”
Days later the referee said his cardiologist told him that his blood vessels were almost entirely blocked and that he had a 15 percent chance of living without Duncan’s and the parents’ actions. His doctor told him if he had survived without the CPR, he would likely have had massive brain injuries. Their quick action saved his life and his quality of life.
“I’m overwhelmed about what you did,” he wrote.
Young didn't think about Duncan’s age when he started the compressions, she said.
“He was willing, he had to do it,” she said. “That shows a lot about they type of human being he is. Now, knowing his age, definitely, it’s an awesome thing for him to do.”
“If my son who is 15 did that, I’d be so proud. You don’t see many people that age willing to do something like that,” she said.
That day is still on the minds of many of the players, parents and “heroes” involved. One of the players wrote a paper about the experience, said Young, while all the parents continue to e-mail each other.
Duncan’s parents, meanwhile, were just proud.
“He’s one of the joys of our lives. When he had to make the right decision, he did,” said his father, Matthew.
With humility, said his mother Ellen.
“This is a cardiac save.”
Fire Chief Richard Bowers
“When his father and I picked him up, we asked how it went. He said, ‘Oh, it was OK …’ Then, literally, ‘Oh, I think I saved somebody’s life today.’”
Duncan said his father, who served as a combat medic, taught him first aid and that everyone should learn such skills. “You never know when you’ll need it,” he said.
Duncan, who hopes to study chemical engineering, saw the referee after he had healed. “It was quite emotional,” he said, “it was a big stress relief to know he was OK.”
Younger sister Danielle showed how proud she was of her brother during the ceremony. “It’s hard to live up to someone who does all this kind of stuff. It is kind of a hobby for him.”