At last night’s school committee meeting, the first responders who attended to a first grade student at Pakachoag Elementary School last week were recognized. Most were humbled by the public appreciation while some looked a bit embarrassed. After all, they were just doing their job. Last week, however, their job saved the life of a six-year-old.

Shortly after noon on Wednesday, May 19th, Pakachoag School called 911 and reported that a child had fallen on the playground and was unresponsive. Within seconds, emergency responders received an update that the school nurse was performing CPR. Fire Chief Steve Coleman, School Resource Officer Brian Kennedy and APD Sergeant Ken Charlton arrived at the same time, 2 minutes after the initial call. An AFRD ambulance arrived next along with a fire engine.

Chief Coleman summarized, “This is an example of extraordinary team work. From the initial 911 call with good communication and updates, to CPR being started by the school nurse prior to the arrival of first responders, to quick and efficient Advanced Life Support by Paramedics. We gave him the best chance of survival, and he is here.”

The ambulances used by Auburn Fire Rescue are perfect for complicated calls with a large patient compartment, a center mounted stretcher which allows access to all sides of a patient, and medications, heart monitors and many other state-of-the-art tools. It’s all carried on a heavy-duty Ford truck chassis which was important last week as 6 firefighters rode with the patient to UMASS Memorial Medical Center, University Campus.

Assistant Superintendent Kathy Lauze shakes the hand of Firefighter/Paramedic Scott Davis on Wednesday night. Photo by John Anderson

Priority One calls, including cardiac arrest, require lots of hands since many tasks must occur in a very brief time period. One this call, Captain/EMT Shawn Steele, Captain/Paramedic Justin Brigham, Firefighter/Paramedic Scott Davis, Firefighter/EMT James Conway, and Firefighter/Paramedic Kim O’Brien rendered patient care while Firefighter/EMT Rick Nicholson drove the vehicle. Deputy Chief Glenn Johnson also assisted at the scene.

Pakachoag School staff members who provided immediate care and support to the student were: Kristie Doyle, Guidance Counselor; Carrie Cashman, School Nurse; and Jayne Gaboriault, Instructional Assistant. They, along with Principal Jennifer Stanick, attended last night’s meeting with the 2 police officers and 7 members of the Auburn Fire Rescue Dept.

School Committee members all had kind words for the first responders. Jessica Harrington, who’s daughter attends Pakachoag, said she was fighting back tears and thankful for the compassionate people in our community.

Vice-Chair Wayne Page told the audience, “You did your job as heroes.” He also commended Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle for how she handled the event by keeping the Committee and the Pakachoag community informed while respecting the student and his family.

Chairman George Scobie said to Chief Coleman, “We always knew you ran a professional department.” He also acknowledged, “It’s amazing what you guys do.” Yes it is!

Thanks to all involved, and we all hope for a speedy recovery which appears well underway as this young man is alert, eating on his own and walking with some assistance.