By Jackie Nelson
Hesston resident Mike Brown was recently awarded the Good Samaritan Hero Award by the Central Kansas American Red Cross.
According to Megan Hammersmith, Director of the Central Kansas American Red Cross, Brown was nominated for his quick, life-saving actions when a student collapsed during a school function.
“He was chosen for the Good Samaritan Hero Award because this past school year, during a school bee, a student from another school collapsed. Mike quickly jumped into action, notifying EMTs and beginning CPR. The girl was unresponsive and, had Mike not helped in the manner that he did, circumstances would have been much different,” she said.
Brown’s actions not only saved the girl’s life, but were critical in her making a full recovery.
“I guess where the award comes in. They said if I hadn’t done CPR, she would have major damage, or she wouldn’t have survived,” he said.
As a former emergency responder, Brown said years of training and conditioning took over.
“Years ago, I was a volunteer fireman for about seven years. The training and experiences there just kicked in and I knew she was in a lot of trouble. They only thing I could do was CPR until the experts got there,” he said.
Brown said his involvement in the ordeal lasted only a few minutes.
“When they first called, I told them thank you, but I didn’t’ feel like I was the hero. The Fire and EMS, doctors, nurses – all of them are heroes. They are the ones that saved her life. They knew what direction to go. I was just a small part at the front of this,” he said.
Brown said the ordeal for the girl began at a normal school function in Buhler.
“We were hosting a league spelling bee and a young lady from Rose Hill was sitting in her seat and just slumped over in her chair. I walked over to see what had happened. The Rose Hill A.D. and I sat her back up thinking she had just fainted, but she wasn’t responding,” he said.
Brown moved the girl to the floor as the rest of the room was cleared of students.
“I laid her down on the ground, and that’s when I realized she didn’t have a pulse and she wasn’t breathing,” said Brown.
Others present also came to the girl’s aid.
“A woman came up and said she used to be an EMT and asked if she could help. And I called 911,” said Brown.
While Brown was contacting emergency services, the girl appeared to be regaining consciousness.
“She took a couple of weird gasps as I called 911 and said we had a 13-year-old girl who was unresponsive with no pulse. I was still on the phone with 911 and the lady helping said she was not responding again – no heartbeat, no breathing. I got off the phone and started administering CPR,” he said.
Brown continued to perform CPR while responders were en-route.
“I was basically doing chest compressions on her. I can’t think how long, it seemed like forever. The Principal, Tod Fredrickson, had a defibrillator with him and she started gasping for air again and we stopped CPR. Then she became unresponsive seconds after and I started CPR again,” he said.
Once professionals were on the scene, Brown immediately moved to the side to let the firemen work.
“By then, the fire department arrived. They had to use the defibrillator on her. She wasn’t coming around. Then EMS showed up. They administered all the things with her. I helped with the IV bag and whatever else was needed.”
When responders arrived and began working on the girl, Brown was worried he had not done enough.
“When they were doing CPR, it looked like he was just going to go right through her pushing on her ribs. I asked one of them if I had been doing it right. They said I had. I was worried I might have broken a rib. She had some bruises, but kids are really flexible,” he said.
Brown stayed near the scene until the girl was able to be taken to the hospital.
“They finally got her to the point where they felt like they could transport her. When they were transporting, again, no breathing, no heartbeat. She was taken to Hutch Hospital where they tried to get her stable. They couldn’t. So they sent her to Via Christi in Wichita. They couldn’t get her stable where she could breathe without a machine.
“One of the doctors called a pediatric cardiologist in Denver. She realized what was wrong and they had to fly the girl to Denver. It was three or four days when she started responding to whatever medications they gave her,” he said.
The girl’s heart didn’t work for almost an hour.
“She went 45 minutes without a heartbeat. You worry about her brain, and thankfully enough, she is perfectly fine now,” he said.
Brown said he hopes everyone present and everyone who hears of his situation takes away an important message.
“Don’t ever pass up a CPR class. If your organization or business or Red Cross is offering one, go and get your CPR training. You don’t ever know when you can really help someone out in a bigger way than you can imagine,” he said.
As the girl is predicted to make a full recovery, Brown said now that he has had time to process the seriousness of the situation and his involvement he is left feeling better.
“I’m glad I could help out in this situation and this young lady is healthy and OK and can live a normal life. I’m so glad this young lady’s parents have her. To me that was the biggest reward, that she is a healthy young girl who has a full and fulfilling life ahead of her.”