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After Tuesday’s scare, Ecks’ smile brings hope to Bulls

A scary situation is beginning to look more optimistic for the South Florida softball team and one of its players.

On Tuesday, junior pitcher Cristi Ecks was participating in routine drills and collapsed on the practice field. Ecks left the field on a stretcher, but was responsive and stable when she was taken by ambulance to University Community Hospital.

Ecks, however, did stop breathing for over two minutes. USF Certified Athletic Trainers were at practice and began to work quickly.

“Pitcher Cristi Ecks, right in the middle of a drill, hit the ground and was unconscious and unresponsive at that time,” USF coach Ken Eriksen said. “Our softball trainer (Kelly Cox) was there and started administering medical attention right away, starting and continuing with CPR.”

Once emergency medical personnel arrived, Ecks was hooked up to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

“She was unresponsive, meaning that she was not breathing and she did not have a pulse,” senior associate director of athletics Barry Clemens said. “They administered CPR, which is (a combination of) mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions. Then they attached the AED, which prompted (trainer) Kelly (Cox) to continue doing CPR and then prompted a shock to be given.”

After Ecks regained consciousness, she was transported by ambulance to the emergency room at UCH, where she was held overnight for observation.

Eriksen felt that the trainers and emergency medical personnel acted quickly in a scary situation.

“I don’t think there was any time to be scared for the people that were involved. I thought that things worked like clockwork,” Eriksen said. “If you would have had a camera you would have seen people doing the things that they’ve been trained to do, not only from the medical staff, but from the coaches and the players and all the people that were around. As a coach that’s what you coach – you coach it to be flawless, and it was flawless yesterday. Being a great athlete that she is, it helps her to recover as fast as she did from that situation.”

“It was a situation where it was a crisis situation and it was a crisis mode,” Clemens said.

Ecks was expected to remain at UCH on Wednesday night to undergo more tests to see if she had any unknown medical conditions.

“There have not been any signs or symptoms that occurred that led up to this,” Clemens said. “We don’t know (if Ecks has any undiagnosed medical conditions) at this time and that is why she’s in good hands and in the care of our physicians from cardiology and team physicians that get involved immediately. They will remain by her and hopefully determine the cause and see what can be done about it.”

The softball team was back at practice Wednesday, and Eriksen believed the team would be ready to get back out onto the field.

“I think the team will be ready to play, because we won yesterday,” Eriksen said. “That was the worst day of my life, but it became the best day of my life when I saw her in the hospital and she smiled at me.”

Eriksen was grateful that Ecks is recovering at UCH.

“I’ve won a gold medal,” Eriksen said. “That didn’t feel nearly as good as yesterday. I feel like we won.”