Evergreen High staff revive student following collapse

Quick action gets her breathing again

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

Advanced heart screenings

Where: PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s Heart & Vascular Center, 200 N.E. Mother Joseph Place.

When: Saturday, Feb. 23.

Cost: $50 (which includes a $25 donation to support future local screening events).

Information: Register online or call 360-514-7755.

An 18-year-old Evergreen High School senior suddenly collapsed in the secretary's office at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The teen was not breathing and had no pulse. Her heart had stopped. School Resource Officer Eric McCaleb heard "student down" over the radio and rushed to the office.

School nurse Debra Fowler performed chest compressions before Evergreen Dean of Students Marshall Pendleton administered a shock with an automated external defibrillator, a portable life-saving device.

The teen didn't respond after the first shock. The nurse could no longer perform the compressions, so McCaleb took over until two more shocks were given, reviving the teen.

"Had we not been there, the outcome likely would have been worse," McCaleb said. "It couldn't have gone more smoothly than it did."

When the school's staff members bring a student back from the dead before lunchtime, they must be doing something right.

The teen, whose name was not released, was transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. She was evaluated for an undiagnosed heart condition and wasn't very responsive until later in the day.

Incidents such as Tuesday's are very rare, said Scott Deutsch, risk manager for the Evergreen School District.

Some, but not all, staff members are trained in basic CPR and how to use the defibrillator. There are two in each high school and middle school in the district

and one each elementary school. The machines were donated by the Quinn Driscoll Foundation, named after a 13-year-old student athlete at Wy'east Middle School who died in 2009 after suffering cardiac arrest while running on the track during gym class.

With about 1,900 students at Evergreen High School, McCaleb said the school population has its fair share of medical problems.

He's been an SRO at Evergreen for five years and deals with bumps, scrapes, alcohol overdoses and other medical issues. While police officers aren't trained medical professionals, they know how to react in emergency situations. He's done more CPR at the school than he ever did on the street as a Vancouver Police Department patrol officer.

McCaleb visited the student in the hospital shortly after she was admitted and again Wednesday morning.

She was alert, talking and grateful to the quick-thinking school officials who brought her back to life.

Patty Hastings: 360-735-4513; http://www.twitter.com/col_cops; patty.hastings@columbian.com