Get the latest from TODAY
A Dallas-area seventh-grader survived a literally heart-stopping crisis virtually unscathed thanks to two quick-thinking, well-trained schoolteachers.
Kristen Goodgion and Brent Reese, teachers at Maus Middle School in Frisco, Texas, rushed within seconds to the aid of 12-year-old Kylee Shea after she crumpled in a school hallway Sept. 26. While Reese performed CPR, Goodgion fetched the school’s automatic external defibrillator (AED). They used the machine’s paddles to kick-start Kylee’s heart in a dramatic rescue caught on the school’s surveillance cameras.
Doctors estimate that without the rapid response of Goodgion and Reese and the use of the AED, Kylee would have had just a 3 percent chance of surviving her episode of heart arrhythmia, and only a 1 percent chance of surviving without brain damage.
Goodgion and Reese are now being hailed as heroes. Appearing on TODAY with Kylee and her family Monday, Goodgion told Matt Lauer she knows firsthand the benefits of the school having its teachers trained in CPR and use of the AED.
“(It’s) extremely important,” she said. “We get trained every two years, and that literally is what we fell back on. It kept us calm; we had something to (fall) back on, to know what to do.”
‘It told us to shock’
Kylee had no prior history of heart trouble, but was walking to class when she felt short of breath. “I sat down, then I fell over, and I don’t remember anything after that,” she told NBC’s Lilia Luciano.
Goodgion, nearby, was alerted by alarmed students. Within seconds, Kylee began convulsing and turning blue. “Right away, I knew I had to go get help,” Goodgion told NBC News.
Reese arrived on the scene just moments later. He told Lauer while Kylee’s heart had stopped, his was racing.
“When I saw Kylee on the floor, just a million things are going through (my) head,” he said. “You just kind of go into shell shock, and you kind of just reboot and we went back to the training.”
As the video vividly shows, Goodgion arrived at Kylee’s side with the AED. While the teachers were trained in its use, actually deploying the paddles on a living subject was a new experience. They hooked the AED up to Kylee and it began reading her vital signs.
“It told us to shock, and we both looked at each other in shock, like, ‘This is really what we need to do right now?’ ” Goodgion recalled.
Reese was only too aware that if Kylee’s heart was actually still beating, the shock paddles could do just the opposite of their intent — kill her.
“In the video, I reach out to touch the (shock) button, and I pull back just a little bit, thinking those exact thoughts,” he told Lauer.
Nontheless, the pair shocked Kylee’s heart. After a second attempt, the procedure appeared to work, with the AED reading “no shock required.”
“She started groaning and we’re still thinking, ‘Did we do this right?’ ” Goodgion said. “(But) it worked.”
A 12-year-old with a pacemaker
Emergency personnel arrived and Kylee was airlifted to a local hospital. Doctors determined the 12-year-old had an undetected heart condition, and she was implanted with a pacemaker. She showed Lauer the scar from the procedure on TODAY.
Doctors told the family that if Goodgion and Reese hadn’t been trained and reacted as quickly as they did, Kylee would likely have been lost. And it was no less fortunate that the the state of Texas mandates that AEDs be placed in all state schools.
Grateful mom Sheryl Shea told Lauer she believes that rule should be universal.
“I think it should be a nationwide mandate,” she said. “I think every state should be required to have these in schools and public places.”
Goodgion and Reese say they now feel a special bond with Kylee — Reese jokes that Kylee, as she grows older, won’t be allowed to date without his permission.
Lauer suggested that every school should be required to have Reese and Goodgion as well an AED.
Kylee’s dad, Mike Shea, reached across to pat the hands of his daughter’s saviors. “They’re stuck with us, (but) thank you!”