To say Oliver high school students are in good hands with Mike Russo and Steve Podmorow is an understatement right now.
The two teachers are being heralded for saving the life of a Grade 8 student who collapsed during gym class last week.
Russo said the student was just finishing physical education class when he collapsed to the floor.
“We got to him really quick, phoned 9-1-1 and got the AED (automated external defibrillator) on him fast.”
Podmorow recalled that the student looked like he merely fainted after doing a run. “He just dropped beside me and hit his head. So I thought he initially fainted.”
Podmorow said the AED analyzed the student’s heart rhythm and indicated that a shock was necessary (just as they started CPR). The machine delivered a total of two shocks to the student.
Podmorow was on the phone with the 9-1-1 dispatcher and Russo was doing chest compressions. They continued this until paramedics arrived.
Soon after, the teachers learned that the student’s heart rhythm had returned.
• Read more: High schools get life-saving defibrillators (2012)
Podmorow noted the head paramedic said this was the first time an AED had been used in a school in the Okanagan.
Russo, who is a firefighter, said the AED is very user-friendly because it voice-prompts the user exactly what to do. Even someone without training can use it successfully, he pointed out.
Russo stressed the importance of public buildings having an AED available.
“I’m not sure how successful this story would have been without it.”
The school is even training students (Grade 10 to 12) how to use the AED.
“This skill can help save their friend’s life and help save their life,” Russo said.
Reflecting on what happened, Russo noted he is thrilled with the outcome, saying anybody in their position would have done the same.
“I’m kind of just waiting for the day he (the student) comes back to school. That will be the happy day for me.”
Podmorow said they just want to see the student back in school and doing well.
Principal Tracy Harrington said she was so proud of her staff who reacted quickly and knew exactly what to do in those tense circumstances.
“They were calm, cool and collected. They gave that student the best possible chance for success. I’m just so pleased that it happened where it did and when it did.”
Harrington said the school now has two AEDs, one of which is in the hallway just outside the gym in case it is needed during tournaments on weekends.
“You just never know. Just the fact that we used it on one of our kids is surprising in itself.”
Harrington said the student is still recovering in B.C. Children’s Hospital. She noted the cardiologist phoned the school and thanked Russo and Podmorow for what they did and praised the school for having an AED on hand.
Superintendent of Schools Bev Young acknowledged that the student was in very good hands with the two teachers who saved the boy’s life with their quick actions.