Educators honored for saving student

When a student started struggling to breathe in the middle of a Central High School classroom on Aug. 17, paraprofessional Janet Webb didn’t hesitate.

She called for help, cleared the room and started helping the student.

Teachers Shawn Marsh and Gretchen McGeeney and school nurse Heather Shuman rushed to the classroom, and the student’s breathing and heart stopped.

As Marsh and McGeeney performed CPR, Shuman called emergency dispatch, and the student began breathing before emergency responders arrived and took over medical care.

The quick thinking and life-saving action of Webb, Marsh, McGeeney and Shuman was recognized by the District 51 board of education on Tuesday. The four were also awarded a Red Cross Extraordinary Personal Action Award at a school staff meeting.

Marsh, who has been CPR certified for 33 years, said this is only the second time he’s used his training.

“I couldn’t imagine being in that kind of a spot and not knowing what to do,” he said. “I think that would be terrible, and I would definitely recommend getting certified.”

Shuman, who has been a nurse for 30 years, said she was glad her co-workers knew how to help the student.

“This is my job, but it’s not for the others, and I’m just grateful that they had had the CPR training and were able to do what needed to be done,” she said.

Shuman said she rarely sees situations like this in a school setting.

“It’s very important to get that training, because you just don’t know when or with who you will need it,” she said.

Board Vice President Tom Parrish thanked the four staff members for their diligence and training.

“We never want to have to use that kind of training, but when it came time to use it, it paid off and we are so grateful you were there,” he said.


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