Virgil Bramblett had just arrived at Hickman High School on Nov. 17 to help repair the school stage. For four hours that morning, the Columbia Public Schools carpenter had felt an uneasy pain in his chest. Muscles near his heart were sore, he thought.
So he walked to the school nurse’s office — on the northeast side of Hickman — a five-minute walk from the school’s main office, where the automatic external defibrillator, or AED, rests.
At about 7:15 a.m. that day, the school’s licensed practical nurse, Cara Baker, had just arrived at work. She led Bramblett to a cot in the nurse’s office. Bramblett asked her to take his blood pressure because of chest pains.
After the blood-pressure reading, Bramblett popped up from the cot, ready to go to work. On his feet, though, he felt dizzy. Seconds later, he was on the cot again, unconscious. Evans and Baker moved him to the floor and began CPR, and Evans shouted at Lisa Chalupny, the office secretary, to call 911.
Do you need the AED?” Chalupny asked, referring to the defibrillator.
“Yes!” Evans replied.
Assistant Principal Tracey Conrad was standing near a stairway in the Hickman Commons when she heard home-school communicator Talisha Payne’s voice on the walkie-talkie asking for the AED.
Conrad sprinted toward the box on the wall containing the defibrillator. School office worker Theodore Hanfelder already had the machine and handed it to Conrad, who dashed to the nurses’ office.
When Conrad reached the office, Evans grabbed the AED as Baker continued CPR.
The AED showed Bramblett’s heartbeat was irregular and that he was having his fifth heart attack. The machine advised Evans to send an electrical shock into him. She pushed the button.
After the AED shock in the nurse’s office, Bramblett seemed to stabilize. The nurses said he even spoke to them.
“I’m so sorry,” he told them. “Thank you so much.”
Evans told him emergency crews were coming. “Oh, I gotta get back to work,” the nurses said he told them.
Bramblett was released from the hospital Nov. 19 and advised to not work for at least a month.