CHILDERSBURG -- Carolyn Jones had gone to get some cheese dip and was returning to a classroom at Childersburg High School on Dec. 7 when she collapsed in the hallway.
She gave out a yell, then lost consciousness. Dr. Quentin Lee, principal, heard and found her in the hallway. Other staff members started running to help.
What happened next on that day is being called a miracle by the staff, paramedics, Jones and her family.
Lee said Jones, a missionary who was on hand to assist with a Christmas party for special needs children, was lying in the hallway unresponsive. Assistant principal Brittani Brown started giving her CPR. Other staff members joined in. Jones made a gasp for air, Lee thought, but it was from the CPR.
“Her heart had stopped,” the principal said.
Approximately 10 feet away from where Jones had collapsed was the AED device, also known as an Automated External Defibrillator that is used to shock the heart, said school nurse Candy Presley. The AED tells users what to do.
Lee recalls Jones’s fingers turning blue as they tried to save her. “We were doing a lot of praying,” he said.
Twice the AED was used on Jones as staff members continued CPR.
Paramedics from Childersburg Fire and Rescue arrived to begin helping Jones. Capt. James Trotter with Fire and Rescue said what the high school staff did for Jones saved her life.
“Without CPR or the use of AED device, most heart attack victims don’t make it,” Trotter said.
Jones was transported to Coosa Valley Medical Center, then Brookwood Hospital, where four days later, she had quadruple bypass surgery on her heart.
Trotter said CPR is so important and everyone should learn it. On what happened with Jones and how her life was saved, he said, “I am a servant of people and my God. If you want to see a miracle look here (gesturing to Jones). She is a miracle and one of only seven people that had a heart attack like this surviving it.”
On Wednesday, Jones, staff members, the school resource officer and paramedics as well as the student body of Childersburg High School were recognized as Heartsaver Heroes by StopHeartAttack in Birmingham.
StopHeartAttack, powered by Trio Safety CPR+AED Solutions, stresses the importance of CPR training and AED devices, said Rusty Lowe, with StopHeartAttack. Lowe presented the awards and an personal AED device to Jones.
Lee said during the presentation ceremony, “We celebrate the success of helping Mrs. Jones. A miracle was performed before our eyes.”
Jones after receiving her AED device from Lowe, turned to Lee donating it to the school.
“You have so many young people here and you never know when it may be needed,” she said. “Now you have a second one.”
Jones’ son, Mike Jones offered his thanks to the staff and first responders for saving his mother’s life.
“Without CPR and the AED device technology, most who have heart attacks don’t survive,” he said. “Thank goodness my mother was here where she could be helped.”
His mother recalled hitting the floor, but after that nothing until she awoke in the hospital.
“I remember not feeling well the day before” she said. “The next morning I was feeling better. God told me to come on to the school for the Christmas party and I did. I remember getting the cheese dip and nothing after that.”
Jones told students Wednesday she dropped dead in the hallway.
“I don’t remember anything,” she said. “I didn’t see any white lights. God wanted me here for a reason. I don’t know what it is. I do know God has been with me this entire time.”
She again said God was with her, especially encouraging her to go to the school that day.
“He brought me here and thanks to everyone who helped me that day, I survived,” she said.
The 72-year-old had never had any heart issues until the day of the incident. Today, she continues to recover from her heart attack and surgery.
The Childersburg High School staff members recognized Wednesday were Lee, Presley, Brown, Trotter, Brenda Bulger, Jan Rousseau, SRO Josh Vandiver, Mary Ellen Pearson and the student body.
The student body, Lowe said, sent Jones get well cards and checked on her during her recovery.
Presley said staff members go through emergency training, with most learning CPR. She also conducts mandatory training twice a year at the school with the AED device. All schools in the Talladega County School System have at least one device.
The school nurse said no one had ever had a heart attack before at the school.