Lisa Stephens knew something was amiss.
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Stephens, a teacher aide at Colleton County High School, was assisting in a classroom Wednesday at 2 p.m. when the teacher became very silent. “She knew something was very wrong,” Principal Cliff Warren explains.
When the female teacher collapsed on the floor, Stephens immediately responded.
Colleton County High School Staff the Saviours
Stephens would be the first of a large number of school staff members who swung into a coordinated action that Colleton County Fire-Rescue Director Barry McRoy says limited the damage caused by the teacher’s heart attack, if not saving her life.
When the teacher collapsed, Warren relates, Stephens ran to a neighboring classroom. Fortunately, the teacher in charge of that math class, Megellan Manbou, is also one of the high school’s first responders.
The high school, Warren said, has approximately 25 staff members located throughout the sprawling campus who have training in CPR and first aid. “When an emergency happens, they help out until emergency personnel arrive,” he explained.
Manbou rushed to the neighboring classroom. He cleared the students out of the classroom, sending them to his room and called for the building’s two nurses, Amy DeLong and Deborah Daniels, to rush to the classroom.
Shon Johnson, a student concerns specialist and another of the high school’s first responders, “was instrumental in getting the kids out of the classroom and getting control of the situation,” Warren said, adding that school counselors were also dispatched to the classroom to sit with the students and talk with them.
“Our first responders did a fantastic job,” Daniels said.
Warren had been observing a class when the call went out. He too rushed to the classroom. “I immediately knew that there was a serious issue going on,” he said.
“When I got there, I could see she was having trouble, then she stopped breathing,” Daniels said.
DeLong and Daniels began administering CPR and asked Manbou to race to the main entrance and grab the AED unit, a defibrillator.
When Manbou arrived with the AED unit, the nurses stopped their CPR and hooked the teacher up to the unit.
Once the AED unit was connected to the teacher, it automatically monitored her heart rate and announced that her heart needed to be stimulated, to receive an electrical shock to begin beating again.
The unit told the nurses when to administer the shock and told them when to press the button. They had to administer a shock twice to get her heart beating again.
That accomplished, they went back to administering CPR until paramedics from Colleton County Fire-Rescue arrived on the scene.
Paramedics needed to administer another shock to the heart as they were stabilizing the teacher for the trip to the hospital.
“When she left here, she was not conscious but was breathing on her own,” Warren said. “When she got to the hospital, she was speaking,” he marveled.
“I was very impressed with these two ladies,” Warren said, beaming a smile in DeLong’s and Daniels’ direction. They did a great job.”
Daniels attempted to deflect the credit. “Everyone involved worked together and everything went so smoothly,” she said, “everything from traffic control to chest compressions — everything was necessary.”
Warren said the staff at the high school trains and practices their response to an emergency. “You don’t want to go through the real thing, but it makes you feel good when steps in place go the way they were supposed to,” the principal said.
His praise didn’t stop there, “I was totally impressed with the fire-rescue workers and their level of care.”
Daniels said when she and DeLong turned over the care of their patient to the paramedics, it was seamless. “The continuity of care given just never stopped.”