Fifteen minutes before dismissal at Bismarck-Henning Junior High School quickly became the longest minutes of Josie Siddens’ life.
Siddens, the nurse for the school district, was returning to her office March 25 when a student came running up, telling her 12-year-old Ashton Norwell was screaming in the gymnasium.
Norwell was being led to Siddens’ office because he felt sick when he began to cry out in pain. But by the time Siddens — who was only seconds from the gymnasium — arrived, the boy was unresponsive and not breathing.
From there, Siddens went into action, moving the boy to the gym floor with the help of a gym teacher while Principal Rusty Campbell called 911. Another gym teacher stepped into the hallway to retrieve an automated external defibrillator hanging on the wall.
“I was looking at (the scene) saying ‘This is not happening here,’” said Siddens, a part-time emergency room nurse at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center. “From there it was just gut reaction.”
Siddens said she used the defibrillator immediately and then began CPR. She repeated the process, but was getting no response from Ashton, who had turned blue.
“I was scared the entire time, but from the second shock on I was saying ‘C’mon, buddy. C’mon, Ashton,’” Siddens recounted.
Suddenly, following the third shock from the defibrillator, Ashton drew a quick gasp of air.
Oxygen provided by Bismarck Community Ambulance helped bring him around and by the time Medix Ambulance personnel arrived, the lifeless boy was cracking jokes at his school nurse.
“There’s never been a better sound in my life than hearing him talk to me,” she said. “It was just fantastic.”
It may have only been a few minutes, but the scene was emotionally draining for Siddens.
“I’m fine during the emergency, I can handle myself well during the emergency,” she said. “But immediately after the emergency, not so well. Lots of people held me up after that.”