After a game of squash at the university’s courts this month, Ayaz Kara suffered a heart attack. Three students trained in first aid administered CPR and then used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restart his heart. In appreciation, Kara has donated five more of the devices to the university in the hopes they might help others like him.
“I’m really going to endeavour to do some fundraising and stuff like that to be able to get some other AEDs for other places that really need them,” Kara said. “I think what happened to me, and a lot of people can be saved if they get the right treatment at the right time.”
Sports Medicine students at Valencia High School learned the true value of their life-saving course first-hand early this school year when they grabbed a defibrillator and saved the life of a fellow student.
Chibuzo Ikonte, a promising member of Valencia’s varsity basketball team, is alive today thanks in part to the fast action of students enrolled in the school’s program who knew how to use a defibrillator.
Recently, more than a dozen additional Valencia High School students learned how it was done during a crash course in saving lives. They practiced resuscitating head-and-torso mannequins and tiny football-sized baby mannequins with the understanding the victims could one day be real.
They were shown how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation and shown how to use an automated external defibrillator.
Training was provided by the National HART Foundation and led by one of its founders, Los Angeles Fire Department Captain and paramedic trainer Thomas Stafford.
“All these things are new to you, but at the end when you’re all done you’ll feel very comfortable and you’ll be able use it in real life like they did back in September when that nice young man was saved by you guys — the Sports Medicine kids,” Stafford told the class.
“That’s what this is all about,” he said. “That you use this in real life.”
On Sept. 25, the 6-foot-4 Ikonte collapsed in the school’s gymnasium during basketball practice.
Sports Medicine students responded immediately to the emergency — the way they’ve been trained.
Coach Joe Monteleone — who heads the program and credits the Sports Medicine students for helping save Ikonte’s life — told students during the National HART Foundation training that Ikonte is fine and doing extremely well at school.
“These students are one step away from working with athletes on campus,” Monteleone said, but he added the ability to save lives through skills learned in the class reaches far beyond campus. Trained students have the ability to resuscitate anyone, including infants.
A team of teachers and principals saved the girl’s life after her heart stopped beating.
On Monday, Assistant Principal Travis Freeman was overseeing the morning school rush, when a teacher told him a student had fallen and appeared to be having a seizure.
“We probably had 400 to 500 kids in the courtyard,” Travis Freeman said.
Freeman has dealt with medical emergencies before. He estimates he saw 12 to 15 students suffer seizures last semester.
But what he found Monday in the courtyard was something he had never experienced in his career. A student, whose family has asked to remain anonymous, appeared unconscious and only had a faint heartbeat.
“When she started to close her eyes and wasn’t responding to my voice and me trying to get her attention, I knew this wasn’t a typical seizure,” he said.
After he knew someone had called 911, his next thought was his wife. April Freeman is a trained nurse and health science teacher preparing for class across campus at the Career and Tech Center.
“I think my exact words were, ‘Get my wife now,'” he said.
April Freeman took off running with a medical kit. Another administrator rushed to get one of the school’s two defibrillators, or AEDs.
“I went for a carotid pulse and I couldn’t feel a pulse at that point,” said April Freeman.
“We had started CPR compressions and breath,” he said, “Then the machine (AED) started to analyze and it advised that shock was necessary– my heart sunk.”
“It was a sober moment for everybody. There were staff all around us, and you could tell at that moment it was emergent,” April said.
The husband and wife team took turns using the defibrillator and doing compressions. It took two shocks to get the student’s heart beating again.
The Freemans said it took a team of teachers to clear the courtyard, calm other students, and assist them with their efforts.
Some faculty and staff involved followed the student to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Doctors told the student’s mother their actions were critical.
“They looked at the results from the AED and the AED in fact saved her life. If the AED had not been administered, she may have not been here today,” Travis Freeman said.
All Anderson County High School faculty and staff are trained to use defibrillators. Many including the teachers who helped in Monday’s rescue are also CPR trained.
The student’s mother said her daughter is still recovering in the hospital and that she is extremely grateful for their efforts.
A quick thinking and properly trained school nurse saved a child’s life at Highlands Elementary in Concord on Monday morning.
At about 10am, a young student passed out and was not breathing, according to ConFire Dispatchers. The school’s nurse performed CPR on the student, who then started breathing again by the time paramedics and firefighters arrived on scene, ConFire said.
“Training made a difference in the lives of our students today and we are grateful she was there”, Mt. Diablo Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer said.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed, we’re hearing the child was talking when he/she was brought to the hospital by the ambulance.
The life-saving nurse says she was just doing her job, and asked that we keep her name private, so we’ll honor her request.
At the heart of this day, students and staff revived Santa Claus and saved Christmas along the way.
“He did pop into my room afterwards and did his ho-ho-ho and the kids were kind of – who is that?” said Kirsten Wessel, a health and physical education teacher at the school.
But teachers and students wouldn’t witness true Christmas magic until Santa left the classroom on that morning, around 10:30 a.m. on December 17th.
“I saw him hit the lockers and just slide down the lockers,” said Ariel Chalmers, a junior.
She saw Santa collapse and hit his head from her seat in Spanish class and ran to get the school nurse while fellow student Courtny Walter ran outside the school to get cell reception and called 911.
“I came around the corner and there was my Santa, except he wasn’t walking around anymore, he was laying there, he was purple,” said Wessel.
Everyone sprang to action. It was the first time Angie Baker had performed CPR in her 17 years as school nurse.
“I didn’t rip the Santa suit. I zipped off the jacket and threw the pillow across the floor and just started CPR. It was so obvious he was gone, with no breathing or pulse,” said Baker.
A third student knew to run and grab one of the school’s AEDs and in the seconds that followed, there was still no twinkle in Santa’s eye.
“It was a scary moment – it was really scary to see your husband lying there,” said Wessel.
Kirsten Wessel had encouraged her husband, Dan Wessel, to put on that suit. He’s entertained children as Santa in past years and last week visited the District’s pre-school and ECFE kids.
Wessel stood alongside Baker as she continued CPR on her husband, and Baker wasn’t going to let her spend Christmas as she known – as a widow.
“When my husband did pass away it was the day before Easter five years so to think of a holiday without,” said Baker.
“Her husband didn’t make it, but I am very fortunate and happy she could do that for mine,” said Kirsten Wessel, through tears.
Set aside any notions of make believe, because somehow this Santa survived his second cardiac arrest in a year.
This past May, Dan Wessel suffered a heart attack while umping a softball game in Wadena.
He was lucky enough to have three trained responders at the ballpark that day who managed to save his life through CPR. He now has a defibrillator implanted in his chest in case his heart stops again.
“That’s the most precious thing of all – the gift of life,” said Dan Wessel. “It all kind of comes together at once and you got to look at it and say ‘wow’ this truly is a Christmas miracle.”
After his first cardiac arrest surrounded by students, Osakis Public School trained more than 10 staff members in CPR as well as all the bus drivers. They now plan to install even more AEDs and plan more CPR training.
“I am so grateful the kids acted as fast as they could and knew what an AED was and where they were located,” said Baker. “Now those kids don’t have to think what their Christmas would be like without their Santa.”
Another young man with significant first responder training was also credited with assisting, and a recent Osakis graduate also showed up with the Osakis First Responders group.
“I don’t need any gifts, I got mine. Everything can wait. Food can wait, presents can wait. It’s really about being with people in life. I don’t know if that is what God intended but we definitely needed to have new perspective,” said Kirsten Wessel.
The Wessels’ have learned Santa’s helpers aren’t always dressed in red: they give without thinking and they persevere against all odds. And still if you had any doubt, Dan Wessel hopes you do believe, because the spirit of Christmas now lives in his heart.
“If there is any life lessons, with a good faith and with strong faith in yourself and the Lord you can conquer anything. I have proven that. That would be my wish for everyone, besides Merry Christmas,” said Dan Wessel.
He already plans on putting on his Santa suit next year.