Teacher among those honored for saving woman’s life
Several years ago, veteran kindergarten teacher Pamela Nolan became certified in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
However, she never had to do CPR on anyone until one evening in late April when Hepburn-Lycoming Primary School custodian Ann Folly collapsed in a hallway at the school on Route 973 West.
Nolan’s training paid off.
Her efforts, along with those of three Old Lycoming Township police officers and paramedics who rushed to the school, saved Folly’s life.
“They really went to work on Ann,” Nolan said, referring to the great lengths the police officers and paramedics went to bring Folly back.
“I was astonished that they never gave up on her. I truly thought she was gone,” said Nolan, who has taught at the Hepburn Township school for more than 30 years.
Nolan, along with Cpl. Jeffrey Hughes, Patrolman Robert Mausteller and Patrolwoman Shyanne McKivison, all received a Life Saving Award Tuesday night from the police department for helping bring Folly back to life.
Shortly before 7 p.m. on April 26, Nolan was in her classroom preparing the next day’s lessons when a part-time female custodian “came down the hall screaming, ‘Something has happened to Ann,’ “ Nolan said in a telephone interview Sunday night.
The part-timer found Folly face down in a pool of blood in another wing of the school. On the job less than three weeks, Folly had collapsed and was not breathing.
Both Nolan and the custodian raced to Folly, meeting a second custodian who had his cellphone with him. The man dialed 911 and handed the phone to Nolan.
“The 911 dispatcher told us to roll her over. She was not breathing. I heard gurgling sounds coming from her,” Nolan said.
No one saw Folly go down and it was unknown how much time had passed before she was found, Nolan added.
However, Hughes believed the time that passed was no more than five to six minutes.
“We recovered her cellphone (in the hallway) and we found a text message she had sent to her daughter a few minutes before (Nolan’s 911 call),” Hughes said.
The dispatcher asked Nolan if she knew CPR.
“I told her I was certified in it years ago, but never had to use it. ‘You need to do chest compressions. I will count with you,’ the dispatcher told me. So I put my hands on her chest and began doing compressions, counting 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4,” Nolan said.
“The dispatcher was wonderful. She guided me through everything,” Nolan said.
The other two custodians went to various school entrances to direct emergency responders to the correct school wing.
Without stopping, Nolan continued doing chest compressions for several minutes.
“The 911 dispatcher asked me if there was anyone who could relieve me but there wasn’t. She asked if I was getting tired. I wasn’t tired, but very nervous. I wanted to make sure I didn’t give up. I wanted to keep going until they (police and paramedics) got there,” Nolan said.
She estimated she did CPR on Folly for 10 minutes.
“It always seems a lot longer when you’re waiting for help,” she said.
The 911 call from the school was received at 6:57 p.m. Police, along with Hepburn Township volunteer firefighters, arrived together at 7:03 p.m., Old Lycoming Township Police Chief Joseph Hope said.
Once officers arrived, McKivison relieved Nolan, taking over CPR as Hughes and Mausteller prepared to activate an automatic external defibrillator (AED) that Hepburn Township firefighters carried with them into the building.
An AED is a device that can send an electric shock to a heart in an effort to restart it or get it back into rhythm.
Hughes shocked Folly twice, but after the second time, the unit issued the instruction to continue CPR, which McKivison did until paramedics arrived and took over Folly’s care.
The paramedics resumed the chest compressions and administered a shock to Folly’s chest several times in an effort to restart her heart, Hughes said, adding that the paramedics administered drugs and performed “rescue breathing” after inserting a tube in her trachea.
“They did CPR on her for quite a while,” Nolan said. “It was pretty grim. It wasn’t looking good at all.
“I remember hearing someone say, ‘We have a faint pulse,’ “ the school teacher recalled.
Folly was placed on a litter and rushed down the hallway to a waiting ambulance that whisked her to the UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center, where she was admitted and later discharged after her recovery.
Last Thursday, on the final day of school for faculty, Folly paid a surprise visit to Nolan’s classroom.
The two women embraced, and Folly thanked Nolan for what she had done and handed her a thank-you note.
It was the first time the two women had met since Folly’s brush with death.
“I had no idea she was coming to the school. It was wonderful to see her standing, talking and smiling,” Nolan said, adding she was overjoyed by the visit.
CPR saves lives, Nolan said. “You never know when you will need it.”
Hope, while presenting the awards at Tuesday night’s township meeting, praised the heroics of everyone involved.
“She did what she was supposed to do,” Hope said of Nolan, adding that the teacher played a “critical” role in saving Folly’s life. “Her actions saved the life of a fellow co-worker.”
“I’m proud of all these individuals,” Hope said. “They’re a great team … It’s just like clockwork.”
In addition to Nolan and the three officers, another member of the township police department, Patrolman Kenneth W. Brown, also received a Life Saving Award for his rescue efforts during an emergency call at the Sunoco A-Plus on Dewey Avenue on Jan. 16.
On that day, a New York state man suffered a cardiac arrest at the counter inside the store, Hope said.
Brown, along with several others, administered life-saving measures on the victim before he was rushed to the hospital, Hope said. The man survived and was discharged.
Mike Maneval, Sun-Gazette correspondent, contributed to this story.