'I'm going to be thankful for the rest of my life': Wilsonville High staff save student's life
Jair Gamez-Carrasco walked across his high school's graduating stage on Thursday, June 9. But it was the lifesaving steps Wilsonville High School staff took a week prior that helped him get there.Â
On Tuesday, May 31, Jair walked home to eat lunch with his family. Not even an hour later, his mother, Maria Gamez, received a call from school staff saying that he had collapsed during his physical education class and was experiencing cardiac arrest.
"Prior to this all happening, we were texting about graduation and things that needed to be done. Ten minutes later, I got the call and I couldn't believe it. I thought they were lying to me at first," Gamez said.Â
Moments after Jair collapsed, school staff, including maintenance member Lance Entzler, teacher Laura Beko and nurse Mary Groh sprang into action and began administering CPR. Assistant Principal Tate Olson rushed to the field with an Automated External Defibrillator to restart Jair's heartbeat. When school resource officer Zach Keirsey arrived on the scene, he took lifesaving measures until first responders arrived on site.Â
Cardiologists told Gamez that if the external defibrillator had not been on site or the school staff had not had training, Jair could have suffered brain damage or died at the scene.Â
Jair was revived at the school and was transported to a local hospital. He underwent surgery to receive a pacemaker.
"I can't express how important and helpful it was to have staff properly trained on CPR and to have access to the machines. I have no words to express (my) gratitude; I'm going to be thankful for the rest of my life,"Â Gamez said.Â
After spending some time in the hospital to recover, Jair returned to school on June 8 to finish his high school experience. A day later, he walked alongside his classmates across the graduation stage. He plans to attend a local trade school to become an electrician.Â
"It was unbelievable watching (my son graduate.) I can't even express the emotions I had. Not even seven days ago, my son had almost died, and then he was able to walk on the stage for his graduation," Gamez said. "I will always be supportive of the school even after my other kids graduate. I will always be around to help and show my gratitude."Â
Gamez said she hopes this traumatic moment willÂ be a reminder to keep up with children's medical check-ups. Before the event, Jair was a healthy, active kid with no prior incidents to indicate he had heart problems.Â
"These things make us realize that life is unpredictable and you are never really prepared for this kind of stuff to happen … I would (encourage) parents to go through yearly checkups," Gamez said. "My son was always super healthy and I never thought this would happen. So other parents should remember that you won't know what to do until it happens, so (it is best) to be prepared."
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