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Two B.C. teachers save life of Grade 8 student

Two teachers at a high school in Oliver, B.C., are being credited with saving the life of a Grade 8 student.

The student went into cardiac arrest during gym class on Wednesday morning at Southern Okanagan Secondary School.

“Kids were getting ready to pack up and get changed and get onto their next class and then we had a young fellow collapse,” teacher Steve Podmorow told Global News.

Podmorow, along with fellow teacher Mike Russo, who’s also a volunteer firefighter in Oliver, jumped in to help.

“It’s nerve wracking, it’s a real serious situation,” Russo said, adding there was no prior warning of any medical distress.

“He was fine before and talking and everything was really normal, so it was really unexpected and a big shock,” he said.

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The teachers not only used their CPR skills, but an automated external defibrillator (AED) that hangs on the wall just outside of the gymnasium.

This is the automated external defibrillator (AED) that the teachers used, along with their CPR skills, to save the student’s life.
This is the automated external defibrillator (AED) that the teachers used, along with their CPR skills, to save the student’s life. Global News

“The AED has all the prompts and walks you through it,” Russo said. “So you just want to make sure you’re doing good CPR and you’re doing the best job you can.”

Startled students watched as Russo and Podmorow worked on the student.

“I was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher person . . . until the paramedics arrived,” Podmorow said. “So they were sort of helping us through the steps as well,”

The school’s principal praising both teachers.

“We’re just so grateful that we had the right people in place and that people were trained,” principal Tracy Harrington said. “I’m so proud of them.”

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The AED was purchased six years ago and had never been used until this week.

“We knew that it was a good idea, that public buildings should have them or have people be able to access them and have people trained on them,” Harrington said. “Never in a million years thought that we would have to use it, let alone on a child.”

The boy was flown to B.C. Children’s Hospital.

According to the superintendent of the Okanagan-Similkameen school district, the boy is out of the intensive care unit and recovering.

WATCH BELOW: (Aired Dec. 11, 2018) Learning CPR and the Heimlich manoeuver from St. John Ambulance

Learning CPR and the Heimlich manoeuver from St. John Ambulance
Learning CPR and the Heimlich manoeuver from St. John Ambulance

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While it’s not mandatory here in B.C., more and more schools are equipping themselves with AEDs, including school district 53.

“I believe there is one elementary school who had one on order but otherwise all of our schools have at least one,” superintendent Bev Young said.

Young said she sent out a letter to the schools in her district following the incident with an important reminder.

“To check their AEDs, check that the batteries are working,” she said.  “This is a good opportunity for folks to check them…that they are working and that they have enough for the size of their building.”

She also told Global News the next step includes training more staff to use the AEDs.