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Hometown Heroes Save Middle School Student

Jan 28, 2016 12:40PM ● By Bryan Scott

By Mylinda LeGrande | [email protected]

West Jordan - Eric Price, assistant vice principal at West Jordan Middle School, heard the call over his radio for someone to call 911 on Oct. 14, 2015. He found out where a student was having trouble. He rushed to the gym, where the incident was occurring and saw Skyler Nelson laying on the floor. Skyler had been doing warm-up laps around the gym when he collapsed. 

“Skyler has been known to be a jokester, so at first they didn’t know what was going on. Once they figured out it was more serious then Skyler just playing around, the students went to Coach [Nakagama], who put a call out on the radio for help,” Price said.

Price thought at first that Skyler might be having a seizure. Price said that another teacher, Lucia Evans, was vital in putting Skyler into recovery position and making sure his airway was open. Quickly, they realized that Skyler didn’t have a pulse, so he started CPR on him. 

“I have been CPR certified several times before, but we had a refresher course about 10 school days before the incident occurred. The requirement is that we have several people on the campus that are CPR certified. We had 13 teachers, 10 days prior, stay after school and get CPR certified,” Price said.

During the initial CPR, Skyler started to come to, but then returned once again to his earlier state of cardiac arrest. 

“One thing I would say to anyone who has to help, is to get someone else there so that they can verify what you are doing is right. The first person there is going to be in shock and trying to figure out what is going on,” Price said.

Price and Officer David Hood switched off doing compressions. They continued until the paramedics Royce Parsons from the West Jordan Fire Department and Dave Mau from Unified Fire Authority arrived on scene and took over for them.

Price said after the incident the teachers and staff at the school were debriefed.  

“Hindsight is 20/20; you are always looking at what could’ve been done better. We did what we thought should be done at that time and he is with us. If this were to happen again, we would want to be even more prepared,” he said.

The police officer on the scene went over minute by minute what happened. He went over the things they did right, as well as made suggestions for improvements for the future if something like that were ever to happen again. 

 “It is always a learning experience. Skyler is doing pretty good; he was back within a couple of weeks. He got a defibrillator, and we went to visit him at the hospital. According to his parents, [Skyler] didn’t know he had a condition until then. He had something wrong since birth, but it just manifested itself here at school. We are glad it did it here instead of somewhere out on the street, and that we were prepared,” Price said.

An open house for Skyler was held on Dec. 1.  It was sponsored by the West Jordan Fire Department. Those invited included the media, West Jordan City officials, administrators and teachers from the school and paramedics. Skyler had the opportunity to meet and thank his rescuers. Price, principal Dixie Garrison and Hood received an “Extra Mile” award from the city, at the event and a Certificate of Recognition from the West Jordan Fire Department. 

Two and a half months later, Skyler has almost completely recovered, looking like a typical ninth-grade student with his curly brown hair, t-shirt and jeans.  He spent eight days in the hospital back in October when he received a pacemaker for his cardiomyopathy.  The American Heart Association came and visited him at the school and gave the “Heart Saver Hero” award to the teachers and administrators whom helped Skyler during school announcements.  

“It did change my life. I’m trying to feel different every day, not the same,” Skyler said.