It’s the moment many school employees prepare for, but never think will come: a student in cardiac arrest.
It happened Monday at Caledonia High School, but that student is alive and well thanks to two teachers, Brett Knoop and Phil Miedema.
Knoop is a teacher and athletic trainer, trained in emergency care for nearly 20 years. He never thought he would need that training for a student.
“I’ve been an athletic trainer now for nearly 20 years and I always thought it would be a grandparent or maybe a colleague, but I never imagined it would be a student we would have to do this for,” Knoop said.
Especially not a healthy student with no cardiac history like 17-year-old Peter Lombardo.
Recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest, Knoop and Miedema started compressions almost immediately.
“I went and got the AED while he [Knoop] was doing CPR,” said Miedema. “We hooked up the AED, got it going, fired up and within 43 seconds of that time we were already shocked and had him back.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital cardiologist Emy Kuriakose says Lombardo’s heart rhythm changed suddenly which caused blood to stop flowing to his vital organs.
Kuriakose says the quick action from his teachers likely saved his life.
“The fact that the AED was right there and the teachers were there at that moment to put the device on was really fortuitous. If he had stayed in that rhythm any longer he would’ve had some serious damage to the organs in his body and to his brain.”
Lombardo underwent surgery at DeVos on Thursday and was released early Friday morning, just in time for Christmas break.