"Coach is on the ground," third graders save teacher after near - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

"Coach is on the ground," third graders save teacher after near heart attack

Something happened to a Baldwin County teacher on September 11, 2017, that he won't soon forget.  He was at work, headed to teach gym class, when he suddenly collapsed.
"He was coming in...and I said are you okay, Coach Lasseter?  And he was about to talk...but then he fell down...and I didn't know what was going on," explains Brantley Turner, Bayside Academy third grade student.
An unexpected lesson on saving a life was unfolding right there in the classroom.
"We all thought that he was joking, but then we saw his face turning purple," said John Carter, another Bayside Academy third grade student.
This was no joke....and not a drill either.  "I just yelled…Coach is on the ground!"
Their teacher, Mark Lasseter was in trouble.  He was having a near heart attack.  He woke up days later in the hospital after being in an induced coma.  He was terrified.
"I was, um, really scared. It was something I just wasn't ready for, you know?" said Mark Lasseter, Bayside Academy Coach.
Lasseter tells FOX 10 News Anchor Lenise Ligon he doesn't remember much from that day. But Beth Johnston certainly does.  She was one of many faculty members who went to work on the coach, using the automated external defibrillator, or AED, to shock his heart until an ambulance arrived.

"It went to a T that day and Mark is here with us today because everybody did their job," said Beth Johnston, Bayside Academy Head Athletic Trainer.

It's training that the school routinely does, but never really expects or wants to use.
Lasseter suffered from what's called Ventricular Fibrillation.  It's a rapid heart rhythm that prevents the heart from pumping blood.  Dr. Craig Peterson, with Eastern Shore Heart Center says it's a good thing the staff was trained on what to do and had the right equipment.
"If you go down and nothing is done about four minutes you start to develop irreversible brain damage, and after six minutes...  And that's why it's important to have people trained in CPR," said Dr. Craig Peterson, Eastern Shore Heart Center.
Lasseter also credits his students who he calls his first responders.  He says he wouldn't be here today, if not for them. They were the first to come to his rescue... sounding the alarm that something wasn't right.
"I was able to come back to school and simply tell them thank you...I mean, what do you say to people who've saved your life?"
So he says thank you.
"I'm glad that he's alive," Carter says as he smiles.
Coach Lasseter underwent surgery.  Doctors removed a 70 percent blockage from his arteries and installed a cardioverter defibrillator in his chest—a device that's like a pacemaker and defibrillator combined.
He should be okay, but if he needs help again, his first responders are up for that task and more.  "I really like superheroes.  When I was little kid that's what I wanted to be a superhero...like Spiderman," Turner responded.

February is American Heart Month, a federally designated event, an ideal time to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends, and communities involved.

Lasseter said he had no warnings that his was in heart danger.  He's sharing his story to warn others about the importance of checking your heart health.  He says, know your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers...because the information could save your life.

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