On Wednesday, March 20, a miracle happened on the campus of Westside Elementary School. One of their students, Luis Villalon-Gomez was with Dr. Dana Tyre, a Speech Pathologist on the campus, when he fell out of his chair onto the floor. Thinking he may have had a seizure, Dana quickly called the front office and Mrs. Jowers announced Code Blue. Jody Altman, the school nurse, and Melisha Wheeles, who serves as a special education paraprofessional and nurse, checked for a carotid pulse and found none. Both of the nurses, Jared Vickers, the school resource officer, and the Code Blue Team administered one shock with the AED and the machine notified the team to start CPR. Exactly at that moment, EMT’s from Coffee Regional Medical Center arrived and began CPR. When Luis was rolled out of the school on a gurney, he did take a breath. From Coffee Regional, Air Evac flew Luis to Navicent Medical Center in Macon. Luis was later transferred to Egleston Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta where he had surgery and is anticipating another for placement of a defibrillator for his heart.
Thanks to the quick action and response from the Westside Code Blue Team, Luis is alive. The doctors in Atlanta told his parents that he was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time. Without the AED, the story may have been different.
Coffee County Schools is very thankful that all of the schools in the district are equipped with an AED machine for situations just like this. Over seven years ago, thanks to a monetary donation from Coffee Regional Medical Center, Cardiac Science AED’s were purchased for all schools. Since that time, many of the larger schools have purchased additional AED’s to have them centrally located in case of an emergency. The district appreciates Kathy Cole. the school nurse supervisor, for her insight in not only making sure that AED’s are available but she provides consistent training for all school nurses and others involved such as the Code Blue Team from each school.
During the March 28 school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Morris Leis recognized the Westside Elementary Code Blue Team for all that they did to save Luis’s life. This is a story that will never be forgotten in the school system and especially on the campus of Westside Elementary.
In recognition of the heroism displayed by the Westside Code Blue Team, Westside Elementary received the March Superintendent’s Award. The certificate lists all of the team members and will be displayed in the front office of Westside for everyone to see. In addition to the Superintendent’s Award, each Team Member received a certificate from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Project SAVE that stands for Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Awareness, Vison for Prevention, Education. The doctors at the hospital were overwhelmed with the attentiveness of this team and what they did to save the life of Luis.
Luis is now resting at home. The faculty, staff and especially the students from Westside are looking forward to his return to school in the near future.