The Lakeland Board of Education saluted members of the Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School staff on Thursday, April 18 for their recent actions in helping to save the life of one of their colleagues.
On April 1, staff member, Janice Mills, collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest in an eighth grade classroom where she was working as a teacher’s aide.
Immediately, a student acted quickly by seeking help. Jasper Fox, an eighth grade science teacher, was nearby and immediately entered the classroom and administered CPR, something he was trained in, but never used. He was soon joined by another teacher, Meghan O’Brien. A hall monitor, Bernie Puff, arrived almost immediately to provide assistance.
Within seconds, the school’s nurse Pat Schurr and School Resource Officer Angel Garcia arrived and took over CPR and began the use of the AED. Other staff members played a key role in calling 911, clearing the classroom of students, and moving desks so that help could get to Ms. Mills.
These actions were instrumental in saving Janice Mills’ life. Mohegan Lake Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived at the scene within minutes to take over.
These events took place at the end of the school day and therefore required a concerted effort to maintain calm throughout the building. Administration conducted an orderly, if slightly delayed, dismissal. A school counselor, school psychologist, and social worker worked to calm students including Mrs. Mills own children.
The staff members – more than a dozen of them – who were involved were recognized Thursday, April 18 at the Lakeland Board of Education meeting which was held in the middle school.
“It seems surreal that it happened, but it’s truly a family here,” Mills said. “There is so much love and compassion and friendship here. It’s my favorite school.”
Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School Principal Vanessa DeFonce said, “It was everybody’s quick thinking and ability to stay calm that helped save the woman’s life.” “We really are a very close community here,” DeFonce said. “When it comes down to it, this building always pulls together. People really care about people.”
School counselor Nadia Potter said that besides everyone being “generous and kind and loving” and always sticking together, performing regular drills at the school helped them be prepared for this type of situation.
“Everybody did a spectacular job,” school nurse Pat Schurr said.