School employees at New Jersey high school save sophomore when his heart stops beating

CeFaan Kim Image
Monday, January 29, 2024
School staff rush in to save student whose heart stops beating
CeFaan Kim has the story.

With his infectious smile and warm demeanor, Victor Poupart looks like he just cheated death.

That's because he did.

"I don't remember anything, said the high school sophomore. "Just waking up in the hospital. That's it."

It's ironic he doesn't remember what might become the most memorable and consequential day of his life. His mother, however, will never forget.

"It was scary. It all seemed to happen very slowly in my head," said Carla Poupart, Victor's mother. "Things just weren't ever happening fast enough. But by what the doctors tell me, if it didn't happen as fast as it did, things would've been much different today."

It was just days before Christmas, when she picked him up at dismissal from North Brunswick Township High School and the unthinkable happened.

"He stopped talking for a second and he said, 'Mom, I feel dizzy,'" Carla recalled. "And as I was telling him oh well get you some water, he passed out."

She ran for help.

The closest room to her was the music class.

Brett Gray, who is the choir director and a football coach, ran and grabbed an AED and alerted school security.

"I think just instincts kind of clicked that this was a serious situation, and thank God they train us on things like this," said Grey.

By the time he arrived with that AED, the school security team was there and not before long they administered the AED and started CPR.

To think, the security are all retired police officers.

"I had to see if he was breathing or not, if anything was blocking his airways," said Lavar Reneau, one of the school security officers. "At that point training took over."

"As I'm doing CPR, any cop will tell you, there's something called your last breath. It's your last deep ovular breath," noted fellow school security Jason Hatez. "Well as I'm doing CPR, he takes a big gasp, and Mindy will tell you, I kind of got angry about it because his mom's crying three feet behind us and I'm looking at Mindy, I was like you're not dying on me before Christmas not with your mom here."

Mindy Steinman, another security guard, reiterated that sense of that determination.

"I just put my fingers where I'm supposed to, I felt this strong pulse, and I told him we have a pulse and he let the whole world know that we had a pulse at that moment," said Mindy.

"They're training, they jumped right in without hesitation, and I think that's something else that I'll always remember just how selfless they were," said Michael Kneller, the school principal.

As for Victor, it turned out he has an irregular heartbeat, and because doctors caught it now, they can help prevent it from happening again.

While it might sound odd to say, in a way, he was in the right place at the right time to almost die.

"Yes, we were most certainly with the right people in the right place," his mom assured.

"I owe my life to them really. I wouldn't be here without them," said Victor.

Meanwhile the company that makes the AED, Stryker, donated another defibrillator to the school and gave Victor the option of where to place it.

As far as where he decided to put it, he chose the music class.


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