Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teen Has Seizure Moments After Asthma Attack, Teammate's Quick Thinking Saves His Life


On April 21, 2018, Walla Walla High School juniors Jacob Pribilsky and Colby Turner were slated to run at a track meet. But there was a lot more in store for the two 17-year-olds than just winning a race.

After running the 400-meter race, Pribilsky started experiencing breathing issues. He had asthma, so it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary, but what happened next was.

“He sat up on his own and said he felt better,” Turner told the Tri-City Herald. “His dad (Jason) was asking him questions, but he wasn’t able to answer all of them.”

“He fell back, but it didn’t register at first what was happening.”

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Pribilsky started experiencing a seizure, but thankfully Turner’s YMCA lifeguard training had prepared him for a situation like this. He immediately got Pribilsky on his side and called for help.

Kelsey Dill, the school’s athletic trainer, was on hand and quickly realized what was happening — but things went from bad to worse.

“Once he stopped seizing, there was no pulse,” she said. “Colby started compressions and I went to get the AED (automated external defibrillator). There was no down time for Jake. We had compressions immediately, and I had the AED on him within a minute.”

“Had I not had one with me, the closest one would have been in the school behind a locked door,” Dill said. “We would not have been able to get it in time.”

While an AED can cost up to $1800, this incident proved it was money well spent. If Turner hadn’t gotten Red Cross training and Dill hadn’t had an AED with her, Pribilsky could have died.

“It was really incredible to watch this young person react and perform the way he did,” the athletic trainer continued. “We have an emergency action plan in place, and we have had some things happen, but nothing life-or-death like that moment.”

The track coach Eric Hisaw also commended the high school junior’s efforts, as well as Dill’s preparedness.

“For a kid who is just 17, Colby just jumped right in and started compressions,” track coach Eric Hisaw said. “The whole venue was ghost-town silent. For our trainer, Colby and the doctors to do what they did was amazing.”

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“You count your blessings for people like Kelsey (Dill),” he said. “Athletic trainers don’t get enough praise. They are amazing people. There is such a need for them. They are vitally important. They do what they can until a doctor can get there.”

Pribilsky was taken to the hospital and recovered well.

This year, around a year after the incident, Turner has been recognized with the Red Cross Certificate of Merit for his heroics. The Red Cross website states that the award is “For Red Cross trained individuals and off-duty Professional Responders” and is “Signed by the President of the United States.”

Peggy Hogarth, executive director of the Red Cross Central/Southeastern Washington chapter, also applauded Turner. “Colby has done something that most people in their lifetime won’t do: save a life,” she said during the award ceremony.

It was Turner’s boss at the YMCA, Erika Miller, who nominated him. “I’ve always been impressed with Colby’s work ethic, and his dedication to his values and beliefs,” Miller told the Union-Bulletin.

As for Turner, he plans on becoming a trauma surgeon, which sounds like something he’ll excel at.

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