Youth sports in Freehold Township are about to get a little bit safer.
This Sunday, the CentraState Health Awareness Center, the Township of Freehold and the CentraState Healthcare Foundation are teaming up to hold an Adult/Child CPR/AED (cardiopulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillation) certification class for sport coaches and staff. The classes, being held at iPlay America's Encore Event Center, are intended to be a kick-off to getting Freehold Township officially recognized as a HEARTSafe Community.
The certification event this weekend will be divided into two options: a morning class from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. or an afternoon session from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. The fee is $20 per person to cover the material costs of an AHA student manual and a CPR certification card. Regularly, this training would cost $50, but the trainers and Event Center have volunteered their time, materials and space.
Freehold Township mayor, Anthony Ammiano, is attempting to pass an ordinance that would require that all sport managers and coaches be CPR/AED certified. While the ordinance is still in its early stages, Mayor Ammiano does not expect any opposition and anticipates that it may be passed by the end of the year.
The proposed ordinance and offered class are in direct response to an accident that occurred in a Freehold Township Little League baseball game this past spring. A foul ball hit 12 year-old catcher Sean Neely in the chest, causing a rare condition called Commo Cordis, stopping his heart. Fortunately, two of Sean's coaches were CPR/AED certified and were able to bring him back to life. Today, because of their training and quick response, Sean is doing fine.
Sean's mother, Candy Neely, urges parents to take advantage of the clinic: "I was that person who didn't care to get CPR (training). If (Sean's accident) turned out the other way I would have never been able to forgive myself."
Mike LaCava, president of Freehold Township Little League, hopes that everybody looks at this as more of a learning opportunity than a requirement to coach youth sports. "This is a skill that could help anyone anywhere, including a family member in your backyard." LaCava added, "Everyone should want to do this from a life lesson perspective, regardless if this becomes a rule or not."
Thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Graeme Preston Foundation for Life earmarked for CPR training, Mayor Ammiano foresees this as an ongoing initiative for the community.