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Mountain View coach reflects on being saved by CPR on field before heart surgery

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Mountain View freshmen football coach Crys Hollen is recovering from heart surgery after having to be revived by CPR on the field last week. (Crys Hollen/Special to MyNewsMesa.com)

Crys Hollen felt like he was in the clear.

Mountain View freshmen football coach Crys Hollen hopes to return to the sidelines soon after heart surgery. (Crys Hollen/Special to MyNewsMesa.com)

Any issue he had with his heart was addressed with doctor appointments, medication and tests.

His focus was on being the Mountain View freshmen football head coach and running the weekly 7-on-7 event at Mountain View.

One of his ventricles had a different idea.

Hollen, 42, was felled on the Mountain View practice field last week when one of his ventricles wasn’t pumping correctly and he collapsed.

He was quickly surrounded by players and coaches and decisions had to be made. The call to 911 was made. CPR was administered.

One life was saved; perspective on life was altered for many.

“It made me appreciate that there were so many willing to step up,” Hollen said. “If I was in the locker room and no one else was really around obviously there would have been a different outcome. It’s hard to think about.”

The Hollen family is a big part of the Toro Nation with Jeremiah, left, a linebacker and state runner-up wrestler and two-sport star Phoenix, a 2015 graduate, with daughter Karstin, an incoming freshman. (Crys Hollen/Special to MyNewsMesa.com)

One of the first on the scene was Campo Verde varsity assistant Kyle Kiger, along with some parents, while Skyline assistant Todd O’Brien helped with compressions until the fire department arrived.

“I was on the other field, and play came to a stop; No one blew the whistle,” O’Brien said. “I thought some kid was hurt and on the ground. I was like, ‘What the hell?’ after I saw the Casteel coach performing CPR. I grabbed some parents I knew that were CPR certified and we ran over. We kept switching out when someone got tired.

“(Coaches) all go through CPR (certification) and mostly think it is a pain because you think you will never have to use it. Thankfully, we knew what to do.”

The fire department took over, found a faint pulse, used automated external defibrillator (AED) to kick start the heart and swept Hollen off to the hospital.

He had surgery two days later at Banner Heart Hospital as he had a defibrillator placed in his heart. He is now home recovering with hopes of making it back to the 7-on-7 session next week thanks to those who assisted in CPR and everyone he has heard from since the incident on June 6, which was also his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife Kindra.

“I’m so grateful,” said Hollen, whose sons, Phoenix, a 2015 graduate, and Jeremiah, a junior, both wrestle(d) and play(ed) football for the Toros. “You take so many things in life for granted; getting to teach and coach is something I’ve always done, and I’ll forever have a different outlook.”

O’Brien had a similar takeaway and having a hand in keeping Hollen stable.

“I’ve known him for years, and when they pulled away (in the ambulance) I wasn’t sure I was going to see him again,” he said. “It shows you how short life can be so make the most of the time you do have. I told (the Skyline players) take advantage of every opportunity you get and don’t be afraid to step up in those types of situations. We all have to do our part.”

Hollen, a freshman science teacher at Mountain View, is certainly thankful so many came to his rescue.

“I’ve had some issues for a couple of months with my heart,” he said. “It was a little different and less severe, but I thought I had gotten through the woods. Clearly, I wasn’t. It could have been a much different ending.”

– Jason P. Skoda is a freelance writer for MyNewsMesa.com.

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