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Four in the forefront

Four staff members at Eagle Point High School were recognized Tuesday for saving a student who suffered a heart attack earlier this month.

Daniel Hinkle, 16, was running during a physical education class Feb. 16 when he fell to the ground and started seizing.

"Every time I tell the story, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up," said Principal Allen Barber during a recognition ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

Hinkle's teacher, Diana Swopes, was at his side within seconds, holding his hand and talking to him as another student ran for help.

Three other staff members ran inside the high school gym, and someone from the school office called 9-1-1.

While staff waited by Hinkle's side, they noticed the seizing had seemed to stop.

"The seizing stopped, but his heartbeat and breathing stopped with it," said Barber. "Daniel was not with us for five to eight minutes."

Swopes took turns with School Resource Officer Mike Anselmi, Assistant Principal Bryan Wood and disciplinarian Joe Meerten at performing chest compressions on Hinkle.

Wood and Anselmi brought an automated defibrillator to Hinkle, who had gone into cardiac arrest.

"It was a calm sense of urgency that I watched," said Barber, who shared that a few minutes later Hinkle was breathing again.

By the time paramedics arrived, school officials had revived Hinkle on their own.

"I can't tell you how tense that 30 minutes was," said Barber, who was impressed with how efficiently staff had worked to save a student. "It didn't matter what child hit the floor that day."

Hinkle was released from a Portland area hospital Tuesday morning, and plans to visit the school by Thursday.

Swopes said first-aid and CPR training from her work as a physical education teacher and sports coach paid off.

"To know that my training had kicked in was a blessing," said Swopes. "But once in a lifetime is good for me."

Hinkle's mom, Lori Hinkle, and other family members were at the ceremony Tuesday and expressed gratitude for how the school staff reacted.

"I was surprised at how quickly and calmly everything came together," she said. Daniel had a fever in the days before the heart attack, but she knew of no other medical problems that may have contributed to the incident, she said.

Hinkle said her son has a small internal defibrillator implanted in his chest, and will likely brag to his friends about being a "cyborg."

Plaques for the four staff members were presented by Eagle Point schools Superintendent Cynda Rickert, who said the experience revealed the hero within each of the staff members.

"There's lots of things that can happen during the course of a day," said Rickert. "This is an amazing, amazing experience."

Rickert said she was thankful that Eagle Point High had an automatic external defibrillator on campus, as schools aren't required to.

A law passed in Oregon in 2005 offered grant opportunities for school districts to acquire AEDs on at least two campuses per school district, and gave legal protection to people who use an AED during a rescue effort.

A 2010 Oregon law requires that every school have an AED by at least January 2015, though Rickert hopes this will happen much sooner in Eagle Point.

"Our goal is to get them in every school this year," said Rickert.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.

Lori Hinkle, the mother of Daniel Hinkle, 16, thanks the four people who saved her son after he collapsed from a cardiac arrest on Feb. 16 at Eagle Point High School. They are, from left, School Resource Officer Mike Anselmi, Assistant Principal Bryan Wood, physical education teacher Diana Swopes and disciplinarian Joe Meerten. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch