School Saves

School Nurse Saves Student's Life

BISMARCK, IL — Fifteen minutes before dismissal at Bismarck-Henning Junior High School quickly became the longest minutes of Josie Siddens’ life.

Siddens, the nurse for the school district, was returning to her office March 25 when a student came running up, telling her 12-year-old Ashton Norwell was screaming in the gymnasium.

Norwell was being led to Siddens’ office because he felt sick when he began to cry out in pain. But by the time Siddens — who was only seconds from the gymnasium — arrived, the boy was unresponsive and not breathing.

From there, Siddens went into action, moving the boy to the gym floor with the help of a gym teacher while Principal Rusty Campbell called 911. Another gym teacher stepped into the hallway to retrieve an automated external defibrillator hanging on the wall.

Talking about the scene Thursday, Siddens admitted a lot of it was a blur.

Summer Break Nearly Broken

Joan Papale, Wallingford, CT - son Mike Papale was 17 at time of event (2006)

Like many school teachers, Joan Papale was busy preparing for the next years classes during the summer break. All her boys were at their Hoop House basketball camp down the road, and Joan was surprised when her husband called for the third time that morning. This time it was “a very different voice. A hysterical, frightened, panicked voice informing me that my son had passed out and that it did not look good and that I’d better come.” Joan was concerned by his tone, but remembered that her son had a history of dizzy spells, usually attributed to low blood sugar. She had taken him to Boston Children's Hospital and even had genetic testing done at Yale.

Shooting Baskets to His Heart's Content (Not!)

Mike Papale, Wallingford, CT - 17 at time of event (2006)

A normal day that began with a 6am workout, soon turned into a prolonged fight for life. Mike Papale was working at his father’s summer basketball camp in central Connecticut, where he helped coach and shoot baskets to his heart’s content. This particular morning did not go as planned. Around 10am he was taking a rest on the bench when he fell to the floor. His younger brother, John, and a best friend watched in horror. At first, they had thought he was kidding around, or maybe had fainted due to heat exhaustion, but then realized Mike wasn’t breathing.

They didn’t know what to do, and neither did anyone else. Mike’s father was in the gym next door and didn’t know anything was wrong.

An Abrupt End to the Ball Game

Scotty was on 2nd base, Chuck was pitching, it was 2nd innings of the last game of the season.
“Chuck looks around at the field, makes sure everybody is ready. He turns around to throw the next pitch and falls straight onto his back,” Scotty recalled. Chuck didn’t move and hadn’t called out. He just went down. Everyone ran over to him, and Scotty saw he wasn’t breathing properly. Scotty Jones knew CPR, he’d been trained every year at school. The Westminster Schools, where he works as a music teacher, has a policy of annual CPR training and refresher courses.* 

Heart Health: Listen, Learn, and Live


Michaela Gagne, Fall River, MA - 15 at time of event (1998)

As a teenager Michaela was not thinking about crowns and gowns. She preferred shorts and boots—soccer boots that is. Despite her ambition to be a Division 1 player Michaela was crowned Miss Massachusetts in 2006 and went on to compete for the title of Miss America 2007. Her platform issue was Heart Health: Listen, Learn, and Live. How is it that a self-confessed tomboy suddenly started entering beauty pageants?

A Textbook Case of the “Chain of Survival”

Doug Chrisman at the CIA

In a textbook case of the “Chain of Survival” — 9-1-1 was called, CPR started, and the AED used within just a few minutes of Doug Chrisman’s collapse.

It was early one Monday morning, and Doug, a student at the Culinary Institute of America, was busy skimming the stock in preparation for that day’s class. The stock didn’t make it. Doug did. His classmates saw the freshman from Missouri collapse, and one of them ran to get the nurse. The chef called the Safety Office and an AED was immediately brought to the scene. Doug was unresponsive and his pulse had disappeared, his face was turning blue — they only had minutes before he would die.

Leah Olverd: Class President, Scholar-Athlete and SCA Survivor

Leah Olverd: Class President, Scholar-Athlete and SCA Survivor

Leah Olverd, of Plainview, New York, suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) on August 31, 2006, at Bethpage (NY) High School while waiting for the ball during varsity volleyball tryouts. One of her teammates, whose father is EMT, ran to call him saying, “You have to get here right away!”

Leah’s coach, Anne DiPrima, immediately began CPR while others rushed for the school’s AED, just down the hall. Leah was shocked four times and revived.

Within minutes, Leah’s mother Claudia received a frantic call at work from the coach, who said she needed to get to the school right away. “I thought it was a terrorist attack,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was about Leah.”

Caitlin Cluff: Saved by Fellow Classmates with the Courage to Act

Caitlin Cluff

Caitlin Cluff didn’t know she would meet her heroes on November 11, 2006, but when she suddenly felt faint and collapsed on the floor, Sarah Bunn and Chantelle Cordon, her two classmates at the Freemont High School in Plain City, Utah, had the courage to take action to save her life. Startled when Caitlin collapsed, they immediately sprang into action and began CPR while other bystanders called 9-1-1. Luckily, Sarah was experienced in CPR, having assisting her mother in CPR training classes many times. She and Chantelle took turns doing rescue breaths and chest compressions until a health teacher and a security guard appeared and took over.

David Belkin: Did We Win?

Survival Profile - David Belkin

Quick response by members of a pick-up basketball team and a school janitor saved David Belkin after his cardiac arrest in February 2007. The 65-year-old lawyer, who’d been pronounced in perfect health by his doctor nine days earlier, was playing a Sunday morning half-court game in an elementary school gym in Honesdale, Pa., when he collapsed. One of the other players, an emergency physician, tried to find Belkin’s pulse and couldn’t. Aware that the school district had outfitted each campus in the Poconos mountains community with an AED, the doctor started chest compressions and shouted for teammates to find the device. While one player called 9-1-1, another found the janitor, who rushed the AED to Belkin’s side. After just one shock, Belkin’s heart was beating again. “Did we win?” he asked when he awakened moments later. At the hospital, doctors installed a tiny internal defibrillator in his chest.

Matt Keene

Survival Profile - Matt Keene

High school football lineman Matt Keene, 17, had just finished team practice when he mentioned he was having trouble breathing, then dropped onto the field and turned blue. For reasons still unknown, his heart had stopped. A coach radioed the school nurse, who called 9-1-1. Meanwhile, other coaches began CPR, and athletic trainers ran from an adjacent field with an AED. Within moments, they shocked Keene’s heart into beating.

Kimball Union Academy, a private school in New Hampshire, was prepared that afternoon in October 2006; officials had obtained two AEDs and were in the process of buying three more.

Syndicate content

Mission & Vision

The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

SCA Newsletter

Sign Up with the SCA Foundation News in order to stay informed! (* required field)

Contact Us

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation would like to hear from you! If you have questions or comments — Contact Us!


Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
7500 Brooktree Road
Wexford, PA 15090

Copyright © 2019 Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Web Design & Development, & Web Hosting By FastWebEngine