Teachers, school nurse save Big Spring student’s life

(abc27) January 23 started out like any day for Chris Yocum, a junior at Big Spring High School, until the end of his first period gym class.

“The morning just started out normally, I got up, had breakfast, took my shower, got on my bus and got ready for gym. I felt great.” he said.

“We were just getting done doing an exercise called planking, and I was just finishing up and writing down the stuff in my gym sheet, and the next thing I know, I’m waking up in the ambulance.”

For some reason, Yocum went into cardiac arrest on the gymnasium floor. He stopped breathing, and his pulse flat-lined. Immediately, the gym teacher, an aid, the school nurse, and even students sprang into action to save his life.

“It takes a team to do something like this,” explained Carol Madden, the school nurse who helped save Yocum’s life.  She said the gym teacher and an aide started CPR, and a student ran to get the AED Defibrillator machine. Madden quickly connected the paddles to Yocum’s chest.

“It advised a shock, so we pushed the shock button and thank goodness it worked,” she said.  She rode with Yocum in the ambulance to Harrisburg Hospital.  She said by the time they arrived, he was awake, talking, and even smiling.

She credits teamwork and the AED machine for saving Yocum’s life.

“There is no doubt about it that without his heart being defibrillated, getting rid of that ventricular defibrillation, he might not be here today,” she said.

Yocum said he now has a new appreciation for life and enjoys the small things. He was hospitalized for three days, and had a defibrillator device put into his chest, in case he would have another incident.

He said he will never forgot those who saved his life that morning.

“When I walked into school the first day, I gave her a hug, I asked for the lady who saved my life, and I gave her a hug.”

The incident might save more lives in the future. The Nicholas Over Foundation heard what happened and donated another AED machine to the school, so one can be located on every level of the building.