May 07, 2019
By Bill Sheehan
All eyes were on Court 1 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Friday, April 26.
Karla Portalatin of Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge's Monika Van De Vondel were battling in a three-set match that would determine which school would advance to the Big West Conference Women's Tennis Championships semifinals. Lindsay Gonzalez, a Fullerton graduate assistant athletic trainer, was among the student-athletes and staff watching the showdown.
But for Gonzalez, the match became a secondary issue after a tennis official collapsed alongside Court 2. She quickly became a first responder. Actually, she was the first responder.
"I heard people yelling, and when I turned around there was a gentleman on the ground," said Gonzalez, 26. "I ran over to him. A woman who was with the man said he had fallen down." She phoned Tony Ontiveros, UC Riverside's associate athletics director for sports medicine and performance, who was at a nearby medical station.
After determining the man had no pulse and was not breathing, Gonzalez began administering CPR. She performed two rounds of chest compressions and rescue breaths before Ontiveros and associate athletic trainer Jessika Hunt of UC Riverside relieved her.
Ontiveros applied one charge from an automated external defibrillator before CPR was continued. A pulse oximeter, a device that measures oxygen levels, was also utilized. A Cal State Northridge coach and trainers from other Big West schools also joined in the rescue work.
Paramedics arrived within minutes and took the patient to a hospital. He reportedly received a quadruple bypass surgery and is doing well in his recovery.
UC Riverside's Hunt told Gonzalez she was grateful that trainers from each school were present. In the past, each school didn't always supply a trainer at the tennis championships, which have been hosted by UC Riverside.
"This shows the importance of the profession as a whole and working together as a team," said Gonzalez, who was born and raised in Pomona. "I'm very, very happy that he was able to get the care he needed and will eventually be able to go home to his family.
"This was not a great situation to be in, but there was a reward at the end. I'm glad we had a great athletic staff there and that everyone contributed. I will never ever forget that day. I hope anyone would do the same in the same situation for someone who needs medical assistance."
After the patient was taken to the hospital, Gonzalez said Ontiveros gave her a hug and asked, "How are you?" He told Gonzalez he was very proud and grateful for her efforts.
"I've been in this business for 25 years, and that was the first time I've used an AED," said Ontiveros, who offered all responders a chance to connect with ATs Care, a national program designed to assist athletic trainers in the aftermath of a crisis event.
"Being a graduate assistant in that scenario could be quite challenging. That girl has ice water through her veins," said Ontiveros of Gonzalez. "She didn't get rattled. She worked right through it and then returned to help her team in its match."
Lindsay Gonzalez, a Pomona native, is in her first year as a master's student at Cal State Fullerton.
News of Gonzalez' life-saving action traveled fast. Jamie Potter, a Fullerton assistant athletic trainer, phoned Gonzalez after Portalatin's 4-6, 6-3, 7-4 (tie-breaker) victory ensured a Titan victory. "Jamie asked how I was doing, and I gave her the details. She said she was very proud and told me: 'You did a good job. You did what you were supposed to do."
Kyle Burnett, another Titan assistant athletic trainer, checked in with a text. And Julie Max, Fullerton's director of sports medicine, called her later that day.
"Lindsay should be commended for her knowledge and calm demeanor in dealing with a life-threatening situation. It's an example of what athletic trainers do and are prepared for on a daily basis," said Max, who is also an assistant athletics director.
"We are very proud of our athletic training program at Cal State Fullerton, and Lindsay is a valued member of our team. Her response illustrates the importance of having athletic trainers present at events for the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and the general public."
Jason Bennett, an associate professor and Athletic Training Program Director at Cal State Fullerton, also praised Gonzalez's actions at Indian Wells.
"Lindsay is an outstanding example of an athletic trainer being in the right place at the right time. She was doing her job and was prepared for this unforeseen event," said Bennett, who is president of the California Athletic Trainers' Association.
Gonzalez received a degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in athletic training from the University of La Verne. She completed clinical rotations at Citrus College in Glendora, Whittier College and Casa Colina Hospital in Azusa as part of La Verne's Athletic Training Program. After graduating, she spent two years at Citrus College as a certified athletic trainer.
At Fullerton, Gonzalez is working on her master's in kinesiology with a concentration in strength and conditioning. She has worked with women's volleyball and tennis in her first year with the Titans.
Gonzalez, who played guard on the basketball team at Claremont High School, enjoys hiking and spending time in the outdoors. "I like to be as active as I can."
As for the future, Gonzalez said she would like to work with Division I or professional athletes. "I'm open to any opportunity," she said.