VIDEO: Nurse, school resource officer save high school student’s life

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 9:52 AM MDT
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TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) - A high school student is back in classes and doing well after collapsing on campus last week.

He has a school nurse and deputy to thank for helping save his life.

The body cam video shows what happened. It was a frantic few minutes as William Mellana, a school resource deputy, and Alicia Robertson, school nurse at Wharton High, worked to save the teen’s life.

“It felt like an eternity,” Mellana said.

Around 3 p.m. Aug. 17, Robertson was crossing campus when she was told a student collapsed outside.

“I turned him over and assessed him and realized that his pulse was weak and thready,” she said.

She quickly called Mellana over, who also called for backup, but in the meantime, they knew he needed immediate life-saving care.

“He had what I was trained as agonal breathing, so it looked like he was breathing, it looks like his eyes were open, it would appear like he was responding to the nurse’s chest sternum rubs, but the reality is he wasn’t. He was out. He was done. And that’s what the (automated external defibrillator) told us,” Mellana said.

That decision saved his life. The student was in cardiac arrest.

Agonal breathing is the body’s natural reflex to gasp for air and get oxygen when the brain isn’t getting what it needs to survive.

“The AED provided a shock, and then it said CPR, so we just did CPR until EMS arrived,” Mellana said.

It was the first time nurse Robertson has used the AED at school, and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. That student is now doing extremely well.

“Yeah, he’s back at school. He’s back at school like nothing happened,” Mellana said.

Sheriff Chad Chronister said it’s a prime example of how important training is.

“Deputy Mellana’s actions are a shining example of the heroism and composure under pressure that law enforcement officers must display every day,” he said. “We are incredibly grateful that the first-aid training each of our deputies receives was able to help this young man make it back home to his family.”

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