Lower Macungie recognizes preschool staff, first responders who saved a toddler’s life after rare pediatric cardiac arrest
When paramedic Christopher Greb arrived at The Devine School on March 22, what he saw was both unusual and alarming.
“When we arrived, we were taken aback, because certainly in my career it’s been very, very infrequent to see CPR done on a child,” Greb said of seeing the preschool’s teachers performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a 2-year-old.
The school staffers and emergency responders whose actions saved the life of Andrew Hammerman, who had gone into cardiac arrest that day at the school, were recognized Thursday at the Lower Macungie Township board of commissioners meeting.
Those who were present that day recounted that Andrew was going about a normal day at his preschool when, after lunch, he fell to the floor without warning.
Alarmed, his teachers rushed over and found him struggling to breathe. According to Greb, the trained teachers immediately began CPR and called 911. Within four minutes of their dispatch, Greb and his team arrived on the scene and administered two defibrillations with an AED.
The emergency responders then rushed Andrew to the Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital emergency room. By the time they arrived, he had regained a pulse, although he was still unconscious. The toddler spent several days at LVCH before being transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
After his surgery at CHOP, Andrew woke and “was the same little boy,” Greb said.
Following the detailing of Andrew’s rare survival story, board president Brian P. Higgins spoke on behalf of the commissioners, applauding the fast actions of the preschool teachers and the Macungie Ambulance Corps. The board then recognized those who played roles in saving Andrew’s life:
- CPR instructor Al Leitgeb
- 911 dispatchers Shane Devlin and Gary Focht
- EMS crew members Rachael Diehl, Rachel Dalia, Josh Lee, Cory Allen and Christopher Greb
- A representative from LVHC’s Emergency Room
- A representative from CHOP
After the ceremony, Andrew’s parents had a chance to speak with and personally thank those who were commended.
Hannah Romano, his mother, said “I am still amazed at the response from the daycare, and how the teachers were able to respond so quickly, heroically, by performing CPR.”
The boy’s father, David Hammerman, added that he was in shock when he got the call from his wife. He expected Romano’s call to be about her then-pregnancy, and said he responded to the news of Andrew’s cardiac arrest “with complete disbelief.”
Hammerman also praised the medical professionals at the two hospitals.
“I can’t say enough about the medical professionals — everything subsequent to that phone call was absolutely amazing,” Hammerman said. “Every single person that we interacted with, every single person that gave him treatment, was a blessing.”
After a two-week hospital stay, Andrew returned home and recovered without complication. His functions are in full repair and he has maintained perfect health since the incident.