Student collapses in gym class, school staff responds

BURLINGTON, N.J. (WPVI) -- It was the best possible outcome at Burlington Township Middle School Wednesday morning.

"We are very thankful as a district and a community that one of our precious children is fine tonight," Assistant Superintendent Mary Ann Bell said.

Around 10:20 a.m., a female student collapsed during gym class.

School staff snapped into action, immediately starting CPR and applying an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator or AED.

"It was the school nurse, we had the teachers who got the device, and then they all worked collaboratively to put it into place," Bell said.

One minute later, police and township EMTs arrived at the school.

"When we arrived at the scene, the child was breathing and had a pulse which obviously was the result of the great work that the school district did," Endeavor Emergency Squad Chief David Ekelburg said.

Two years ago, Chief Ekelburg encouraged the district to train more staff to be certified in CPR and how to the use an AED.

The district purchased at least two units for every school building, at up to $2,000 apiece and they trained 40 staff members over the last two summers. This was all done ahead of a law that takes effect this September requiring certified CPR teams and AEDs in every New Jersey school.

"I have no doubt that if there was no defibrillator, if there was no trained personnel, the outcome would not have been as good as it is today," Ekelburg said.

"All I will say is when word came back that the student is doing well, a cheer of 'Team Burlington' went up," Bell said.

Parents like Sue Andris were notified by e-mail and thrilled to hear school staff saved a student's life.

"They were right there with the CPR, and the defibrillator was there being used, I think it's a fabulous outcome," Andris said.

The district also has portable AEDs that travel with sports teams and a device at the football field.

The female student is not being identified. She is still in the hospital and expected to be okay.

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