ST. GEORGE – For the school resource officer who saved the life of a 14-year-old girl at Dixie Middle School earlier this week, he was just doing his job. Yet for that girl’s family, he’s a hero.
“If he hadn’t been there, she wouldn’t be here,” John Rowley, father of 14-year-old Megan Rowley, said to Fox 13 News of the officer who gave his daughter CPR after she collapsed at school Tuesday afternoon.
Due to a medical condition that can be potentially fatal, Megan went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing after experiencing a seizure. All the while, School Resource Officer Matt Schuman stayed with Megan. He first held onto the girl so she wouldn’t get hurt during the seizure, then he administered CPR until the ambulance came and took her to the hospital.
“He’s our hero,” John Rowley said. “… It’s hard to express the gratitude.”
The teen is expected to make a full recovery.
Megan was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George first then flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas for care. She woke up in the hospital and had no idea where she was or what happened.
“I was getting scared,” she said. “I just wanted Mom.”
While she doesn’t clearly remember what happened that day, her father and Schuman do.
It was during gym class when Megan began to feel dizzy and ill. She contacted her mother for a ride home and was sent to the nurse’s office. That much Megan said she remembers. The rest becomes disjointed.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
On the way, however, Megan started to vomit into a trash can when Schuman found her.
“I noticed her color was pale – paler than I’ve ever seen with anybody before,” Schuman told Fox 13 News.
For the officer, it had been a routine day up to that point. He saw the teen vomiting in the trash can and thought she had the flu. Megan’s legs were also weak and wobbly, Schuman said, and she collapsed. She managed to stand again after resting. Schuman chose to wait with the girl until her father arrived.
When John Rowley arrived, he said he planned to take Megan to InstaCare, believing she had the flu because her siblings had recently had it. However, Schuman wasn’t so sure and got the father’s permission to call an ambulance for Megan.
Then Megan had a seizure. Schuman called over a parent in the school he knew to help hold the teen so she wouldn’t harm herself while the seizure occurred. When it was over, Schuman said, he noticed Megan wasn’t breathing. He than checked her for a pulse – there was none.
Schuman immediately began to administer CPR for around 2 minutes or so when it appeared there was a response.
Megan sat up, trying to fight for air, Schuman said, and then passed out again. Schuman continued to administer CPR until the ambulance arrived.
As Schuman worked to keep Megan alive, John Rowley said he watched in panic, sometimes yelling at his daughter to wake up. However, watching Schuman also gave him a measure of peace as well, he said.
“Watching him in action, there was a peacefulness that came over me that he knew what to do,” John Rowley said.
Medics had to shock Megan twice with a defibrillator before a pulse returned. She was then loaded into the ambulance and raced to the hospital.
“As soon as they shocked her and she was breathing on her own, the relief was overwhelming,” John Rowley said.
In the wake of the event, both the Rowley family, the community and beyond see Schuman as a hero as news of his role in saving Megan continues to spread.
“I wanted to live,” Megan said, adding, “when I get back to school I’ll go up to him and say, ‘thank you.’”
Tim Lowe, principal of Dixie Middle School, said Schuman is an example of the caliber of officer that serves in area schools.
“Our Police Department always sends the best to work with the schools,” Lowe said. “We’ve got one of the best here …. Obviously he was in the right place at the right time and did the right thing – but that’s what he does.”
All the while, Schuman continues to tell others he just fell back on his training and did what had to be done. As a police officer, it’s what he does, he said.
“This was why we get into the profession – to save lives,” he said. “…This is normal. It’s what we do. This is me doing my job.”
Still, Schuman gave another family a reason to consider him their hero when, on the same day he helped Megan, he responded to the scene of a choking infant in the neighborhood he lives in. Once at the scene, Schuman was able to clear the 9-day-old baby’s airway and save that child’s life as well.
“We’re human beings – this is what we do,” Schuman said. “… We get up day in and day out and we come out to serve the public because we love who we serve. We love the people in our community and this comes natural for most of us because it’s inside us – it’s what we do.”
Fox 13 News contributed to this report.
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