A J.J. Nearing teacher has won a national award for helping to save the life of a student.
J.J. Nearing Catholic Elementary staff announced on Facebook Feb. 17 teacher Scott Raypold has won a silver St. John Ambulance Lifesaving Award for using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to save the life of Grade 4 student Oliver Edden last September.
Established by St. John Ambulance Canada, the Lifesaving Award recognizes people who save or attempt to save a life through the application of first aid knowledge while their own lives are not at risk. It consists of a certificate and a silver pin.
While he was thrilled to learn of this award, Raypold insisted saving Edden was a team effort, and said he would accept the award on behalf of everyone involved.
“This couldn’t have happened without everybody being here,” he said.
Two busy minutes
Edden’s mother, Jolene, said her son has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCN) — a heart condition which can cause cardiac arrest. Having a defibrillator on hand is vital for survival should that happen; she and her husband James sent Edden to J.J. Nearing specifically because the school had an AED and were trained in its use.
Edden said he and his classmates were running in the gym on Sept. 28, 2022, when he felt his heart rate go up. He sat down on a bench as a precaution.
“Five seconds later all I saw was black, and I woke up in the hospital,” he said.
J.J. Nearing principal Marina Lotoski said a girl saw Edden wobble and roll onto the floor. Having been briefed on his heart condition, the girl alerted class teacher Laura Dodsworth, who dispatched students to get help.
Raypold, who has first-aid training, said he was outside the gym door when the students found him. He ran into the gym and yelled for the students to get out.
Edden was moaning and gasping when Raypold arrived. Raypold grabbed the AED from down the hall and worked with Dodsworth and vice-principal Darren Skalski to deploy it.
“I couldn’t get the pack (containing the shock paddles) open so I had to rip it open with my teeth,” Raypold said.
Edden had passed out and stopped breathing by the time the AED was deployed, Raypold said. He triggered the device to shock the boy. Edden’s colour changed immediately as he resumed breathing.
All told, less than two minutes had passed.
“They had that AED by Oliver within one minute, 25 seconds,” Lotoski said.
“It was fast.”
As Dodsworth, Raypold, and Skalski comforted Edden, secretary Jen Anderson called an ambulance and alerted Edden’s parents. Medics arrived within nine minutes to take Edden to the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
After surgery and months of recovery spent learning from home, Edden returned to school Jan. 20, to the joy of his classmates.
Edden’s father, James, said his son survived this incident because of the training and dedication of school staff.
“If these people weren’t here at this school at this time, we would not have had the outcome we had.”
Jolene said every school should have an AED on hand, as many people who have HCN don’t know it until they suddenly collapse.
“It really does save lives.”
Edden said he was glad to be back at school with his friends. As for his rescuers, he said, “I feel they are all doing a good job.”
Raypold will receive his award at Government House in Edmonton on June 3, 2023.