May 24, 2023

School Nurse Honored with American Red Cross Award For Saving Teacher's Life

School Nurse Honored with American Red Cross Award For Saving Teacher's Life

Bethany Simmons-Little, a school nurse from Southwest Miami-Dade, Florida was awarded the American Red Cross after saving a teacher after a heart attack. Simmons-Little performed CPR on the teacher until the paramedics arrived. 

“I was just trusting my training,” Simmons-Little said.

Lisa Thelwell suffered a heart attack in the middle of class in 2021. Students quickly altered Simmons-Little and the nurse quickly jumped to action. She performed chest compressions for over 15 minutes, even after police and first responders on the scene told her to stop.  

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“When you do CPR, you’re taught that you just keep going unless there is an AED present,” Simmons-Little said. “The AED was not present. That person needed me. Compression was the best way. I was following my training.”

Simmons-Little refused to stop until an AED became available or Thelwell was transferred to the local hospital. Walter Hall, principal at Leisure City K-8 Center, was concerned that Simmons-Little was going to be arrested because as she was performing CPR, the nurse was arguing with the police and refusing to listen. 

Thankfully, Simmons-Little never stopped and refused to give up. Two years later, Thelwell is back teaching and forever grateful for the actions of her colleague. While Thelwell was unable to make it to the ceremony honoring Simmons-Little, she did send a video message saying, “When someone saves your life, you’re bonded with them forever. You are my personal hero and I thank God for you daily.”

“The American Red Cross gives out a National Life-Saving award when someone uses their skill set to save or sustain another life, and in this case, Ms. Little used her nursing training and literally did not stop,” said Debbie Koch, executive director for the American Red Cross for Miami and the Keys. “Followed every instinct of her training and was able to save this woman’s life.”

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