When Avril Ramirez learned how to perform CPR on a mannequin during an adventure education class at MHS last fall, she never expected that she would ever have to use this skill outside the classroom.
But in late August, while working at her part-time job, she came to the rescue of a choking man and saved his life by performing CPR.
“I just remembered it from last year,” said Avril, now an MHS junior. “Everything just came into my mind. I don’t know how, because it was so long ago. But I remembered.”
It happened on the last Saturday in August while Avril was working at a local party rental business, Clowning Around. She was with a co-worker when they noticed a man coughing and choking. Once he started waving his arms and mouthing “help,” several people, including Avril, went to his aid.
A few guys started performing the Heimlich Maneuver but couldn’t help him. After about 20 seconds he turned blue and collapsed on the ground. People began yelling, “call 911,” and “someone start CPR.”
That’s when Avril stepped in. She directed people to turn him around and announced she was going to start doing compressions. She asked for someone to keep count for her.
He had no pulse, so she locked her hands and started doing compressions. When she started to tire, a retired firefighter stepped in and continued the compressions. Soon, the victim came to and started to spit up. Avril directed the others to turn him over so he could spit out the food. Then he opened his eyes.
“When I was doing the compressions, he was so, so pale. I was just praying to God the whole time I was doing compressions, please let him live.”
Thanks to Avril and the others who helped, the man was able to fully recover.
Avril said her friends and family were shocked when they heard the story. They couldn’t believe she even remembered how to perform CPR. But the teacher who taught her CPR, Brett Wilhelm, wasn’t shocked by Avril’s quick action.
“That’s just the nature of her. She’s just a good person. She’s the first to help another kid who’s struggling,” Wilhelm said. “I don’t know a lot of 16-year-olds that would feel that confidence to perform CPR to save someone’s life. I’m just proud of her and the courage she had.”
Avril, who wants to join the military and eventually be an ultrasound technician, said she will carry this memory with her as long as she lives.
“It was scary, but in that moment, I didn’t care about anything else. Just helping him and saving him. I think it will definitely affect me mentally to just go out there and help and not be scared of what the outcome might be.”
Avril was recognized at school on Thursday, Sept. 14 during the Mustang Pride Award Breakfast. The award recognizes students for demonstrating one of the school’s
“Profile of a Learner” tenets: Agile; Self-Assured; Proactive; Information-Seeking; Resilient; and Empathetic. She was nominated by both Wilhelm and MHS School Psychologist Krysta Penuel.
“She’s a special kid at MHS and in our community,” Wilhelm said. “She’s going to do great things.”
She already has.