Salem middle school student uses CPR to save his dad's life

SALEM, Ore. -- Joseph was playing video games when his father collapsed on the floor, gasping for air and his heart slowing.

Joseph had started CPR training in his seventh-grade health class at Straub Middle School two weeks earlier, and he immediately recognized the signs of cardiac arrest. He went to work.

He and his mother, Marissa Illingworth,  pulled his father, John, flat on the floor, and began chest compressions the way he was taught.

"While I was doing compressions he said, 'You’re going too fast mom, you need to slow down,'" Illingworth said. "When I would go to give him breaths, he told me, 'That's too deep mom, that's too much.'"

Joseph knelt beside his mother and coached her through chest compressions while a 911 operator was on the line.

His father's heart stopped and his face started to turn purple, but just as Illingworth said she started to doubt herself, Joseph pushed her to continue.

"He was calm, he was so calm through that whole entire thing — which it should have been reversed," Illingworth said. "He had complete and total control of the situation and when I got upset, saying 'I can’t do this,' he said, 'Yes you can, mom.'"

Salem Fire Department arrived within five minutes of Illingworth calling paramedics.

Paramedics used an Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED, to restore John's heartbeat. He was taken to the hospital and recovered with no neurological damage.

"If it weren't for him, his dad wouldn't be here right now," Illingworth said.

Joseph was honored Friday afternoon in front of a gym packed with his peers and his parents, recognized for his quick thinking and his efforts that saved his father's life.

Dan Livengood, a paramedic with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, taught Joseph CPR techniques and presented him with a commemorative coin.

Livengood said his fire department has a tradition of awarding coins to people who contribute to saving someone's life. If a patient is able to walk out of the hospital and shake the hand of a paramedic, Livengood said, they did their job.

"Joseph was a good student and he was one of the handful of students who paid attention," Livengood said. "He even told other students in class that their hand placement was wrong."

The gym erupted in applause and shouts when Salem Fire Chief Mike Niblock honored Joseph with a glass plaque commemorating his efforts.

Members of Salem Fire Department, including the first responders who performed external defibrillation on Joseph's father, took turns shaking the hands of his parents.

"He's my hero," Illingworth said.

© 2017 KGW-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories