Rockford resident, sports mom and nurse, Nancy Roberts, couldn’t ultimately save the life of Dorian Dawkins after the 14-year-old recently collapsed at a basketball meet. Roberts, who is CPR and defibrillator certified, was among parents at the Michigan State University meet. She said the day’s activities had pretty much concluded and it was around 8:15 p.m. when Dawkins of Saginaw collapsed after shooting a free throw.
Rockford High School’s Colleen Pierson was there as well and said that at first people thought Dawkins was kidding. He said he felt really tired and then just dropped. Roberts said she called for a defibrillator and called for someone to call 911.
“I don’t really know where the defibrillator came from. Someone just put it there and I used it,” Roberts said.
Using the defibrillator and CPR, Roberts said she thought Dawkins might be okay, as he regained responsiveness as paramedics arrived. “They didn’t continue CPR on the way to the hospital. At that point he was breathing on his own,” she said.
Dawkins and his older brother rode in the ambulance to the hospital, where it has been reported the boy regained consciousness for some time and was able to see and talk with his parents. He later suffered two more heart attacks and died.
“You think when something this horrible happens, can any good be made of it?” Roberts said. She believes the horrible incident proves how important it is for everyone to take CPR certification and learn to use a defibrillator.
Last year Rockford Public Schools (RPS) achieved a milestone with the most recent defibrillator purchase, and put one of the live-saving machines in each school building in the district. RPS has also been a leader in requiring staff to know how to use them.
“It’s very easy to use a defibrillator. It talks you through every step. Anyone can do it,” Roberts insisted. She also asked not to be called a hero, and said she didn’t do anything more than any other doctor or nurse would have done.
Roberts said Dawkins collapsed at about 8:15 p.m. and was reported to have died around 12:30 a.m. His parents had been at the meet, but had left to go to a wedding.
“I’m glad he had that time with his parents. I’m glad he was able to have his older brother with him in the ambulance and at the hospital,” Roberts said. She added that the other athletes were very shaken and probably will be for a long time. “They had a lot of questions and are probably having a hard time of this,” she said, noting that they had to return to the camp the next day and continue their practice.
“We told them this is why it is so important to learn CPR,” Roberts said. “Employers, schools, staff anywhere that have people around should know CPR. If you are only training half your staff, you aren’t doing the job.”
Roberts hopes the incident will at least inspire more people to take the easy training to become certified. “You never know when something like this can happen. It can happen to anyone at anytime. You hear about it more and more with student athletes. I don’t know why that might be, but it shows the importance of being prepared.”
Locally, Rockford Ambulance offers CPR and defibrillator training at a very affordable cost. Every few years, recertification is required, but well worth the cost when saving a life may be the result. Dorian Dawkins was known to be a very gifted student, a talented athlete and a well-liked boy who was going into his freshman year of high school.
Pierson said she is also glad her friend was able to give the gift of a little more time to the family. “My son said to me, ‘Mom, it could have been any one of us’,” she shared. “I know we all hugged our kids a little harder that night.”