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GASD’s Emergency Response Team and advance preparations may have saved two lives this year

The Gettysburg School District (GASD) emergency response team and its public access defibrillators were used in two situations this year to respond to urgent cardiac arrests. In both cases they may have saved the lives of the victims.

On Monday evening, Fire Chief Steve Lord from the Hagerstown Maryland Fire Department honored employees from the school district, the Adams County Regional Emergency Management System, and the local medical evacuation helicopter system for their work.

Lord said the team likely saved the life of electrician and firefighter Joel Weller who, while working on a lift in the high school on August 12, received a high voltage electrical shock that threw him into cardiac arrest.

Lord said staff members at the high school used the public access defibrillator and CPR to keep him alive after the accident. “These kinds of saves are not very common,” he said. “We owe all of you because someone had the vision to put a public access defibrillator in the school and to teach the employees CPR.”

Weller said “I’m very thankful. I thank you all for being at the right time and right place to save my life.”

GASD Health Services Department Head Janette Slimmer highlighted the importance of the emergency response teams in the district. Slimmer said teachers, counselors, administrators, and custodians were part of the group that had received emergency training, some of whom were involved in the Weller event. 

Slimmer said the team also used the public defibrillator in an event in October in which a student experienced sudden cardiac arrest. “This investment is well worth the return,” said Slimmer.

American Heart Association Heart-Saver Hero awards including certificates and letters of commendation were given to GASD employees Jeremy Lusk, Michael Rupp, Brenda McDannell for the August event and Karen Morris and Sarah Kollars for the October event.

Awards were also given to Dave Snyder, Kevin Hardy, Jeremy Lusk, Mike Rupp, John Colgan, Stan Licharowicz, Brenda McDannell, and Kyle Sokol who supported the emergency team.

A representative from Adams Regional EMS praised the work of the district and the staff who were involved saying it was rare to see patient follow-through because 90 percent of patients don’t survive.

“That we’re standing here today with two [saves] in three months shows the great work you are doing. It’s absolutely unbelievable,” she said. “We’re extremely grateful to be here to congratulate your staff for the hard work.”

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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