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Evan Stahlnecker: Holcomb 'school office staff, under the direction of the principal, had my son's best interest at heart.'

It is no secret that since the 1990s, Oregon schools have seen systematically less funding each year. They're required to do more with less, while also maintaining a safe and nurturing environment. Two of my children just started attending school in the Oregon City School District this year after leaving a rural district previously. So far, the level of commitment from the classroom all the way up through administration has been transformative and refreshing. In fact, it's downright life-saving.

On Jan. 14, my 7-year-old second-grade son had gone to his school office feeling tired. He attends Holcomb Elementary School. He was taking a short nap when office staff tried to wake him up after some time. My son Drew was unresponsive. Staff were well trained and immediately called 911, and EMTs arrived at the school soon after. My son had a very low pulse and blood pressure and was transported to the closest ER and given fluids, which helped raise his stats and kick up his metabolism. He was later admitted for observation because his heart rate was so low it scared the physicians.

Drew was admitted for medication toxicity resulting in brachycardia — a slow heart rate. The medication in question is often used to help children with ADHD, originally designed to lower blood pressure. Had the school not intervened as fast as they did (which led to a rapid push of IV fluids), the result could have been much worse like a stroke, seizure, organ damage or even death.

The school office staff, under the direction of the principal, had my son's best interest at heart. Holcomb Principal Kelli Rhea also assists with classroom management and because of Drew's ADHD, she had a connection with him. She knew Drew's mother and myself would not be able to get to the school anytime soon. Kelli jumped in the ambulance to ride with Drew to the ER. Drew was very scared, with the EMTs working around him, but the principal's actions helped to keep him calm and reduced the trauma he was experiencing.  

My son is doing well, and as a parent hearing that your child is in an ambulance on the way to the ER, any little piece of mind is welcomed. Knowing Kelli was with my son was another example of educators going above and beyond to keep our kids safe in the complicated and frightening world of underfunded education. 

Evan Stahlnecker is a resident of Oregon City.

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