IT WASN’T quite the test she was expecting when she was interviewed for a top job at a Hampshire school.
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But today a Hampshire schoolboy has her to thank for the fact he is alive – after he collapsed and suffered a heart attack on the sports hall floor.
PE teacher Emma Denham, below, was being observed taking a class as part of the interview process at Mountbatten School, in Romsey, when Sam Mangoro’s heart stopped, sending him into cardiac arrest.
Emma Denham the Saviour
But quick-thinking Emma, along with three other members of staff, ran to his aid and gave him life-saving CPR using a defibrillator that the school had only purchased a few months before.
It was their courage and ability to put their training into practice under such immense pressure, along with the fact that the school had a defibrillator, that saved the 16-yearold’s life say doctors.
Sam, below, was last night being slowly woken up from a medically induced coma, which he has been in since the incident on Thursday, but his parents are hopeful thanks to the teachers who gave him the best possible chance of making a full recovery.
His dad Michael told the Daily Echo: “We would like to thank every single member of staff from the school from the bottom of our hearts.
“They have given us our son back, because without them we wouldn’t have him.
“We are quietly optimistic because the critical thing was that the treatment he received at the school from the teachers was absolutely incredible and that’s given him every fighting chance.”
He added: “They did an absolutely amazing and wonderful thing under immense pressure and I am sure in what must have been a lot of fear.”
The drama happened on Thursday afternoon when Emma Denham was being observed by two other teachers – Jon Neale and deputy head Joanna Scott – as she took a class in the gym.
Just a few minutes in, after the children had warmed-up, Sam suddenly stopped breathing and collapsed.
Within seconds he was being given CPR by Emma, support staff and first aiders Lyn Lovell and Janet Barrett and assistant deputy head Mark Chance.
Mrs Scott immediately ran to get the defibrillator – which the school had only bought a matter of months before – and Mr Neale ran outside to direct the paramedics.
The teenager had to be shocked four times to restart his heart and the team were able to get him stable enough for paramedics to get him in an ambulance and to Southampton General Hospital.
Mrs Scott told the Daily Echo: “Everything just seemed to be in slow motion but we just did everything we possibly could. The other children were just amazing and were so sensible, all leaving the gymso we could work on Sam.
“We are all still very emotional about it, but at the time you don’t think. Autopilot just sets in and you get on with what you need to do.
“It is overwhelming to think about what we did but we were all part of a team that helped to save Sam’s life.
“What is important is that we get the message out there that every single school needs a defibrillator.”
Head teacher Heather McIlroy, below, soon received a call from one of the consultants treating Sam to praise her staff, who, he said, had saved the teenager’s life.
Mrs McIlroy, who told the Daily Echo that, regrettably, Miss Denham did not get the job despite her heroics, said: “It is nothing short of a miracle.
“The stars had truly aligned in Sam’s favour, because not only were there three teachers in the class who knew exactly what to do, we had only had the defibrillator for a matter of months.
“What makes me so proud as a head teacher is to have the paramedics and doctors say to me that it was the swift action of my teachers that saved his life.
“It is a wonderful story of having the right equipment and the trained staff who had the courage to take action.”
She added: “The entire school community is thinking about Sam and his parents and are looking forward to getting him back.”
Since his cardiac arrest, Sam’s parents, Michael and Lynda, who have three younger sons, have held a bedside vigil.
But they also took a short time out to go to the school on Friday to personally thank all of the staff who kept their son alive.
Michael, from Romsey, added: “We just wanted to show them our gratitude.
We will never be able to repay them for what they have done, they have been amazing because they are not medical professionals, yet they did this.
“Their actions have really given us the opportunity to hope.
“We are just thankful that luck was on his side on that day because he was in the right place at the right time, with people who were trained to know what to do.
“Had he being walking home from school alone, or if the school hadn’t had a defibrillator it could have been a lot different. It is incredible and we feel so fortunate for that.”
Sam, a bright pupil who is studying for his GCSE’s, was yesterday said to be slowly waking from the coma but his dad said that it was still early days.
But Sam has always been a fighter.
When he was just ten days old, he was left fighting for his life when a virus damaged his heart, causing him to need medication for the rest of his life.
Back then his parents were warned that he would need a heart transplant by the time he was ten, but Sam proved them wrong and this is the first time his condition has caused him to suffer a cardiac arrest.
As well as praise from doctors and paramedics, the teachers at Mountbatten School, who have already ordered two more defibrillators, have also been commended by the head of education at Hampshire County Council, Councillor Peter Edgar.
He said: “I wish Sam a safe and successful recovery and am delighted that one of our schools has been complimented by the health profession that they carried out correct life-saving procedures.
“The school should be congratulated for the action they took during what must have been very traumatic circumstances.”