When Joan Eacmen, a teacher at Roxbury’s O’Bryant School of Math & Science, collapsed in front of her classroom in March from cardiac arrest, students and staff took action. Their quick thinking and combined efforts to call for help, administer CPR and use the school’s AED are what saved Joan's life. On June 4th, we were able to recognize these heart savers as part of National CPR & AED Awareness Week. Members of the school community including students; Zi Liu, Nakeo Murray, and Railin Castro; school nurse, Carrie Bell Peace and assistant principal Bettie Nolan, are credited with saving Eacmen’s life on March 31, 2014. Recognizing their teacher was in need of immediate medical help after collapsing in the midst of instruction, the students took charge, clearing the area and summoning their school nurse and assistant principal who then performed CPR and used an AED until Boston EMS arrived.
When I think of what a heart saver is I think its someone who acts quickly in the face of a shocking and traumatic event like a sudden cardiac arrest. The students and staff who jumped into action and recognized that their teacher needed help are most certainly heart savers and are the examples to showing the importance of knowing how to respond in the event of cardiac emergency as a team!
National CPR & AED Awareness Week, celebrated annually during June 1-7, highlights how lives can be saved by learning CPR and how to use an AED. Each year, more than 420,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States. When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby, which if performed immediately, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Unfortunately, statistics show that most Americans feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they don’t know how to administer CPR or they’re afraid of hurting the victim.
Both Boston EMS and the physicians at Brigham and Woman’s hospital said that if immediate CPR and an AED were not used, Joan would not be alive toady. Because Boston Public Schools made a commitment to protect the community by ensuring that AEDs are available at all times in school facilities and that school personnel and students have the opportunity to learn the lifesaving skill of CPR, Joan was able to thank the students, staff and the school for saving her life!
Boston Public Schools started their commitment to strengthening the chain of survival in 2002 when the first AED was placed at Boston Latin School and in 2006 when CPR training was introduced to school staff and students. We continue to work with schools across Massachusetts to encourage them to teach students CPR, a move that could save thousands of more lives, just like Joan's!