College honors two for saving classmate

“It was a first class we will never forget.”

That’s how student and licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.) Lynn Allen described the first fall class at Northeast State when she and classmate Madison Presnell put their life-saving skills to use by helping save a fellow student.

And it wasn’t even a laboratory period.

The incident happened at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education (KCHE) during math class. Chris Miller suffered a seizure rendering him unconscious and causing his airway to become obstructed. Allen, a licensed practical nurse, assessed Miller’s condition and began CPR.

“I heard a thud and from my own experience knew what was happening,” said Allen, an L.P.N. working in the home-health field. “I started doing chest compressions and asked if anyone had a breathing mask and Madison said she did.”

While Allen began chest compressions, Presnell grabbed a breath mask from her purse and began rescue breathing. Allen also moved to protect Miller’s head from injury after he fell from his seat.Class instructor Michael Neff called 9-1-1 for paramedic assistance while fellow instructor Denise Strong stayed with the class. The two kept up CPR staying focused on his care until emergency personnel arrived. Fortunately, Miller began breathing on his on before EMTs reached the scene.

Dr. Janice Gilliam, Lynn Allen, Madison Presnell, and Chris Miller.
(from left) Dr. Janice Gilliam, Lynn Allen, Madison Presnell, and Chris Miller.

Miller, a double major in business and pre-medicine curriculum, returned to class two days later. He said he felt no ill effects from the incident. After posting a high grade point average in his first college semester, he has no plans to slow down his academic pursuits. He was extremely grateful to have classmates not only skilled in CPR but ready to save put those skills to use.

“I’ve always had a heart to help people and a passion for science,” said Miller, a non-traditional student and father of four children. “I plan on pursuing medicine myself specifically in pediatric oncology.”

Allen has employed CPR during her professional and personal life. She is pursuing an associate of applied science degree in Nursing at Northeast State via the L.P.N.-to-R.N. program.

Dr. Gilliam awards a medal to Madison Presnell.
Dr. Gilliam awards a medal to Madison Presnell.

Presnell, a Cardiovascular Technology major, took a class to learn CPR earlier this summer. She said this was the first time she had put the skill to use.

“It was scary, but I couldn’t see it and not do anything,” said Presnell. ““CPR is something everyone should learn how to do it because you never know when you could be in a situation where someone needs it.”

Presnell said studying CPR and a subsequent class about electrocardiogram science had piqued her interest in the medical field. Also an aspiring chef, she said a CVT career looked promising as she continued her education.

“I liked talking to the patients and learning the technology,” she said. “I can open my own café later.”

CPR protocol trains caregivers to give two rescue breaths. Give the first rescue breath — lasting one second — and watch to see if the chest rises. If it does rise, give the second breath. If the chest doesn’t rise, repeat the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver and then give the second breath.

CPR keeps oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until a patient can get definitive medical treatment to restore a normal heart rhythm. The procedure uses a cycle system to measure a victim’s response to the breath. Thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths is considered one cycle.

Northeast State faculty and staff honored students Allen and Presnell this month for their quick response. Northeast State President Dr. Janice H. Gilliam presented the students with a medallion recognizing their heroic efforts.

“We also want to thank the instructors and the whole class for the awesome job you did in this effort,” Gilliam told the class.

Several days later the students were back in class at KCHE moving forward with the semester. Allen and Presnell are both proponents of teaching people how to perform CPR and why that action could be the difference in life or death for a relative, friend, or stranger.

“CPR is not hard to learn, and it is something we all should know,” said Allen. “Gaining that little bit of knowledge that can mean so much in life.”

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