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Quick-thinking staff saves teacher from Wheaton

February 28, 2011|by Jay Scherder, KY3 News | jscherder@ky3.com

WHEATON, Mo. -- A teacher is lucky to be alive after collapsing in her classroom in January.  Sally Sharp lost consciousness, stopped breathing, and her heart stopped beating.

Have you ever heard of an Automated External Defibrillator or an AED?  If your answer is no, you're not alone.  Sharp had never heard of it either but it was this machine that came to her rescue and brought her back to life.

"I had taken a bite of meatloaf and, the next thing I knew, I looked up and the room was spinning," Sharp said. 

Jan. 19, 2011 started out as just another day.

"It happened so fast.  One minute minute I was fine, the next minute I wasn't," said Sharp.

"Sally rides to work with me -- we carpool -- so it was a completely normal day," said Wheaton teacher Melissa Creed.

During lunch in her 2nd grade room, Sharp collapsed.

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"She was looking at me white as a ghost and just flipped out backwards out of the chair," said Creed.

"I'm a diabetic and I kept thinking, 'Okay, maybe my blood sugar dropped,'" Sharp said.

It wasn't her blood sugar.  It was her heart.  It stopped beating and the rest of her body shut down.

"We got her over on her back and she was already blue. Her lips were blue," said Creed.

Creed and fellow teacher Melissa Hayslip sprang into action.

"I couldn't speak," said teacher Melissa Hayslip.  "I was just [waving my hands] like, 'Come, come, come!'"

They found the nurse.  She grabbed an Automated External Defibrillator or AED.

"It was incredible. They got it out, put it on her, and it took over," said Creed.

The machine brought her back to life.

"The minute it shocked her, she took a breath and started to come to," said Creed.

"I could hear the voices," Sharp said.  "I could hear everyone talking and I was like, 'What is going on? Who are they working on?  Oh! Me! Oh my word!'"

An ambulance too Sharp to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with Prolonged Qt. It causes an abnormality of the heart's electrical system.

"I just remember praying, 'Please God, don't let me die,'" she said.

In the chaos of the day, Sharp had hardly eaten a bite.

"When I finally got to eat my meal that night, guess what I had? Meatloaf," she laughed.

Sharp admits she probably won't be eating meatloaf anymore, but she will be doing something else: pushing for every school district to have an AED.  If Wheaton wouldn't have had one, she wouldn't be here to tell her story.

"We'll preach to anyone that will listen: get an AED."

Schools are not required to have AEDs; they're completely optional.  In order for it to be required, it would have to be passed at the state level by the Legislature. 

Sharp has an Implantable Cardio Defibrillator, or an ICD, which she got two days after she collapsed.  She received a monitor that sits by her bed and is like a WI-FI.  It picks up all of her ICD activity during the day and night and transmits to her doctor.

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