TWINSBURG — A Tiger junior and lifeguard at the Twinsburg Fitness Center was recognized as one of the high school's “Top Tigers” late last month for her role in saving the life of the district's track coach.

Nicole Fruscella, 17, was one of the first to come to the aid of Charles Glover Oct. 24 after he had a potentially deadly heart incident.

"I was working at the poolside, and we got a call from the fitness side," Nicole said recently. "We were told to bring the AED and the trauma bag. We found Coach Glover passed out on the ground."

Nicole had never used an AED before, but she was able to use it, then helped paramedics "get him on the gurney and get him to the hospital."

"They said the work that me and Jacob Lowe [the assistant manager at the pool] did saved his life," Nicole said.

Nicole, who is in her second year at working at the recreation center, said that she hopes to "never have to use an AED again," but that the training she received helped her know how to use it.

Glover said he was grateful for the quick actions of Nicole and the city's safety forces. He said he credits them for "not only saving my life, but my brain."

"The role of Nicole and the fire department played is instrumental to my being here," said Glover, who is back to work. "I'm happy I'm still working and happy I can keep doing what I love."

Glover, who has coached since spring 2000, said he was supposed to meet a couple of students on the nearly fateful October afternoon, "to work with them before the season started."

"I was supposed to meet with them at 2:30, and I got there at 2," he said. "I was doing my own workout. I work out three times a week."

He was working on the elliptical, where he had been working out "numerous times" in the last several months.

"I changed the program 20 minutes in," he said. "And that's the last thing I remember."

The next memory he has is waking up "in the cath lab with the cardiologist." What he knows next, Glover said, came from him watching a video of what happened. He said that he had walked to the track to see if the students had arrived. He took a seat to wait for them.

"From what everyone said, I went face-first in the floor off the weight bench," Glover said.

When Nicole found him, there was no pulse nor respiration.

Glover said he was told he was awake and talking to Nicole and the paramedics, though he doesn’t recall doing so.

So what happened?

"A chunk of plaque broke out and went into what they call 'the widow maker,'" Glover said. "I had 100 percent blockage almost instantly."

"The widow maker," according to the 2007 Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, is an infarction of the proximal left anterior descending artery.

"My cholesterol is 130, but it's unstable," Glover said. "There's a history of heart disease in my family. I have always worked out and have never had an incident. I had no history of heart problems, no symptoms, no pain. If you'd have asked me if I'd be a candidate for something like this, I'd have thought they were nuts."

Glover said the cardiologist said the survival rate for this type of heart attack "is less than 5 percent, and most [who do survive] have permanent health problems."

"I only missed three days of work," he said. "But with my family history, my cardiologist told me if I hadn't worked out like I did, I'd have had something like this 10, 15 years ago."

Ron Fruscella, the district's school resource officer and Nicole's father, said he was "proud how she and everyone responded."

"The kids take their training seriously," he said. "We see a lot of this in our profession, but for a 17-year-old kid to do this …"

Fruscella said when he came home that evening and found his daughter home much earlier than he expected.

"I asked her why she was home so early," he said.

Her response? "I don't know, they just sent me home."

Eventually, Fruscella said, he was able to find out what happened.

Steve Bosso, assistant fire chief, said that Nicole was one of three nominated by the department for the Red Cross Courage Award.

"We're absolutely proud of her," Bosso said. "She was able to use her training to save someone's life."

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or ??@AprilKHelms_RPC??