Staff at Trumbull County school helps save student in cardiac arrest

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LEAVITTSBURG, Ohio– A principal, nurse and two teachers in Trumbull County are honored as heroes for saving a life. Their annual training kicked in when a student’s heart failed in class.

The LaBrae Local School District nurse said this is the second time the AED has had to be used — the first time on a student.

“When I got down there, the student was on the floor, and she really wasn`t breathing,” said Principal Martin Kelly, of LaBrae Middle School in Leavittsburg.

The frightening moment happened  around 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 28, the second day of school. Kelly, at first, thought he was responding to a seizure.

“I never thought she was going to go into cardiac arrest.”

The sixth grader was in Joseph Slifka’s technology class when she suddenly needed emergency medical attention.

“Probably everything you don`t want to happen happened,” Kelly said.

School district nurse Sharron Harper was called immediately.

“I was about as far away as I could be and still be on campus,” she said, applauding the other staff member’s efforts to start acting without her.

With the help of science teacher Cory Hinzman, the four faculty members jumped into action, utilizing CPR and AED training while notifying emergency responders.

“The AED did shock her and was able to get a heart rhythm back,” Kelly said.

“It takes a village, our village stepped up. We all did our job. And we got a good outcome,” Harper said.

The school was put on a policy lockdown to help emergency responders get to the student and get her out quickly, something Warren Township Fire Chief Randy Daniels complimented.

“It`s nice to know that when an emergency arises we can all work together,” Daniels said.

The girl, who is new to the district, was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital for heart surgery. She was back in classes two weeks later.

“In all my years of education, I haven`t had anything like this,” said Kelly of the severity of the incident.

Many staff members go through CPR training from Harper, but all faculty must undergo state-mandated AED training.

“It`s just like a tornado drill or a fire drill, you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Harper said.

She and Kelly were recognized Monday night for their efforts by Daniels with the “You’re My Hero” award.

Harper said the honor was appreciated while pointing out how important the other staff members are to her job.

“It`s not a ‘me’ thing, it`s a ‘we’ thing. And we all come together when we need to,” Harper said.

“That was the lesson as to why we train,” Kelly said.

“It`s an important training to have. Not just in the schools, but across the community and businesses and wherever else,” Daniels said.

Harper said she’s always ready for any situation that might arise.

“I always tell people I deal in potentials. It`s going to happen? Probably not. Could it? Might happen.”

Daniels said the department is working on partnering with the school district to implement more CPR and AED training for staff and students.

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