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Teacher’s CPR skills save a life

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Teacher’s CPR skills save a life

While a packed house awaited the next act at a recent National Dance Institute performance in Tydings Auditorium, an intense real life drama was taking place backstage.

College Lane Elementary third-grade teacher Amanda White was performing chest compressions on a colleague who collapsed just before some volunteer teachers were set to perform on stage.

While she and several other teachers worked to save their colleague, other teachers formed a human screen to shield the fallen teacher from the view of the nearly 600 student performers who were waiting in the wings for their turn to put the dance skills they learned earlier in the week as NDI professionals taught them some basic dance routines.

“I don’t think the students ever knew what was going on,” White said. “All the teachers who were backstage knew immediately what they had to do.”

White said she suspected the teacher who collapsed might be having a seizure when she noticed him “going around in circles. I thought at first he might just be rehearsing before we went on stage, but then he fell.”

As he fell, his head struck a metal handrail and then the concrete floor.

“I thought he was having a seizure,” White said, “so I just dived onto the floor beside him and another teacher and I rolled him onto his side so he wouldn’t choke. But then he stopped breathing, so we rolled him onto this back and I locked my fingers together and started the compressions on his chest and told someone to call 911. He started breathing again and we rolled him back on his side, but he stopped breathing again and we rolled him on his back and I started the compressions again.”

White said she kept the compressions up until the police and the emergency medical personnel arrived.

“It seemed like forever, but I know it was just a few minutes before they got there and took over,” White said. “And as soon as they got there, we went on stage. We were a little bit frazzled, but the show went on.”

White, who is originally from Canada, worked at the Lea County Correctional Center (GEO prison) for several years before becoming a public school teacher.

“I learned CPR while I was there,” she said. “Everyone ought to learn it. You never know when you might need it. Parents need it with their own children. Teachers need it because they don’t know what might go wrong with a child. Something might happen in the cafeteria and they would need to know what to do. It’s a lot better to know it and never use it than to need it and not know how to do it.”

White left the prison system because she decided she might have a greater positive impact if she were to be proactive instead of reactive.

“If we can help people avoid doing things they shouldn’t do, we would all be better off. I love teaching. When I’ve been teaching fractions or paragraph writing and all at once the lights come on in their heads, that’s a great moment,” she said.

Many school personnel didn’t even know of the dramatic events that took place back stage during the performance. Hobbs schools personnel were not able to provide a update on the condition of the teacher.

“I haven’t told many people,” White said. “My students don’t know anything about it. I think I was supposed to be there to help.”

Tyson Ledgerwood, director of elementary fine arts, said he was not present backstage during the time White was doing chest compressions but that he believes the teachers who were there did an excellent job of preventing students from seeing what was going on.

“We’re very proud of them and of course, proud of Ms. White,” he said.

Burkett Shaw
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