Ohio HS coach thanks FFs, medics who saved him from in-practice heart attack

One year ago, Fenwick High School lacrosse team Coach Phil Keegan collapsed during a team practice; this week he thanked first responders who saved him

Rick McCrabb
Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio

One year ago, Phil Keegan didn't know where he would be today.

While coaching the Fenwick High School lacrosse team at the Forest Hills Sports Plex in Middletown, Keegan, 58, suffered a heart attack. Instead of being one of the 800,000 in the U.S. who die from cardiovascular disease each year, Keegan survived.

On Monday, he met his "heroes," the Middletown firefighters/paramedics responsible for saving his life.

Several factors played a role in Keegan being alive today, said his wife, Denise.

She said Rick Horn, a registered nurse and father of a Fenwick lacrosse player, was on the scene when Keegan collapsed on Nov. 2, 2019 and immediately started CPR until Middletown firefighters arrived. Since the firefighters were located at Station 1, across the street from the post office, they arrived at the sports center within one minute.

Even after Keegan had a stent placed during a procedure at Atrium Medical Center, he had another heart attack while his cardiologist was in the hospital room.

"It was just a miracle," his wife said. "What are the odds all those things happened?"

So on Monday, the one-year anniversary of his heart attack, Keegan presented the firefighters will insulated tumblers with the engraved words: "Your life saving actions on November 2, 2019 will never be forgotten. PBK."

He had met the firefighters earlier, but he was still "foggy" from the medications, he said.

"That was an amazing thing for my life and my family" is how he described his heart attack to the firefighters.

Later he said: "There is nothing that I could do to fully make things square."

Lt. Tate Cobb, who has retired, said it was great seeing Keegan again and that rarely happens after such a severe heart attack. He said the patients typically die or their condition doesn't allow them to visit the fire headquarters.

"Things worked out perfect for him," Cobb said. "The plan worked perfectly."

Besides Cobb, the other firefighters who responded to the call were Jeff Hobbs, Michael Mieczykowski, Omer Hurlburt and Andy Lightner.

When Keegan collapsed, his wife was home and a mother of a Fenwick player called and told her about the heart attack. She immediately drove to Atrium and got there about the same time as the ambulance.

"Your mind just goes," she said about the drive. "I was hysterical. I was just a mess."

Then she called her son, Sam, a Loveland firefighter, and another son, Alex, who lives in Colorado. She told them to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

One year later, the Keegans still live with "guilt," she said.

"Why did God save him?" she said. "We are so thankful every day."

During the most recent appointment with his cardiologist, Keegan, who founded the John XXIII and Fenwick lacrosse programs 15 years ago, was told he has no damage to his heart. His doctor, who has practiced for 27 years, said he's never seen a heart go from "so bad to so good," his wife said.


(c)2020 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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