First Responders Honored as Miracle Workers
Superintendent Burke Royster and School Board members honored 13 Greenville County Schools’ employees for their heroic efforts to save lives. Each employee received a Miracle Worker Award from the School Board. These individuals were trained through the District’s First Responder program and used their skills in places they least expected.
Taylors Elementary kindergarten teacher Anne Wilson noticed that a child, while playing on playground equipment, fell to the ground. She expected to see a scraped knee or head bump, but found the child unresponsive and gasping for breath. She began CPR while Megan Carter, the classroom teacher, called the school nurse, Janet Sijon. The office called 911 and followed first response procedures. It became apparent that the child needed an automated external defibrillator (AED). Using the skills they learned in First Responder training and the school’s AED, Wilson, Sijon, and the Taylors Elementary First Responder Team delivered a shock. After the shock and about six minutes of CPR, the child started breathing normally. EMS transported the child to the hospital and later, these school heroes were told that if the child had been anywhere but school, she would not have survived.
Heather Higgins, a first grade teacher at Oakview Elementary, was shopping with her mother, Mary, secretary at Riverside Middle. They heard a yell and turned to see a shopper having a seizure. Working together, Mary told the store manager to call 911 while Heather knelt beside the woman and placed her sweater under the woman’s head. Coincidentally, Rick Given, a special education teacher at Southside High and trained first responder, was in the area. Rick and Mary gathered information from the woman’s family so they could share with EMS. Heather could see the woman was having a seizure and had stopped breathing. After checking for a pulse and not finding one, she began CPR. The victim began breathing on her own after one full round of CPR. The First Responders continued to monitor the woman until EMS arrived.
Sterling School Nurse Maryanne Rapp made what she thought was a quick stop in a home goods store after school. While shopping, she heard what sounded like snoring coming from a back room, followed by a screaming employee running through the store shouting for someone to call 911 because a co-worker had collapsed. None of the employees knew CPR. Maryanne knew the “snoring” sound she heard was someone gasping for breath. She checked the victim’s pulse and saw that her face was turning blue. She started chest-compression only CPR for 10 to 15 minutes before EMS arrived. EMS delivered the AED shock and determined she was having a heart attack. Later the doctor told the woman’s family she would not have survived if Maryanne had not been there to respond so quickly.
First Responder: Mary
Spencer Benham, Information Security Administrator, was home with his two daughters, ages three and 14 months. He noticed the youngest daughter making an unusual sound and saw panic in her eyes. Then she stopped breathing. He immediately remembered the training course he had recently taken in Infant CPR/First Aid and realized she was choking. He checked her mouth and did not see an obstruction. Not wanting to push a foreign object further in her throat, he turned her over his forearm and administered repeated strikes midway between the shoulder blades. On the third impact, out flew a large circular plastic play jewel, commonly hot-glued onto girls' princess dresses. His daughter began to breathe normally and belted out a good cry, and for Spencer, that was the most wonderful sound he’d ever heard.