Close call for assistant principal’s mother motivates school staff to take on lifesaving training

South Rowan High staffers voluntarily taking CPR and AED training
The push for training comes after the assistant principal's mom went into cardiac arrest.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 3:14 PM EST
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LANDIS, N.C. (WBTV) - The assistant principal of a local high school has been motivated by his mother’s near death experience last month to push for CPR training for all staff members.

Jonathan Farmer is from South Rowan High School in Landis. On Wednesday many of the staff members at the school have been getting training to help them know what to do if someone has a medical emergency.

“Had a situation with my mom on January 8 where she went into cardiac arrest,” Farmer recalled. “I was actually walking in the door at my church, dad called, I looked down, I knew something wasn’t right because he wouldn’t call me, we all go to the same church, he wouldn’t call me in the middle of church for no reason, and I could tell the panic in his voice. We got home and she was unresponsive when we got there.”

Landis firefighters Todd Bittle, Kevin Johnson and Ethan Yarborough used their CPR training to save Beth’s life. Between the time that she collapsed and the time she arrived at the hospital, Beth Farmer underwent seven CPR circuits and one AED procedure.

“She spent 16 days in the hospital, ICU, ECMO machine, on the ventilator,” Farmer said. “It makes you start thinking how important it is to be properly trained.”

That led Farmer to push for CPR and AED training for the more than 100 staff members at South Rowan High.

“That’s my goal, is to get all of our staff here trained on our campus, bus drivers, cafeteria, custodians, secretaries, teachers, administrators, everybody, even some of the substitutes who are here on a regular basis in the same training,” Farmer added.

SRHS Principal Jordan Baker was all for it.

“It all goes back to our basic responsibility that we have here at South, that we have to have a safe and supportive environment,” Baker said. “Safe is a lot of things and one of those things is making sure we take care of our kids if they have an emergency, or any of our staff members.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday staff members in the training were on the floor with the manikins, doing the chest compressions and the breathing…then they learned the proper use of the automatic defibrillator.

“It makes long days for our school nurses who are doing the training, but they were more than willing to help,” Farmer said. “Time is critical and if you can do it quickly then you can really save somebody’s life.”

There are nearly 1000 students at South Rowan, and a medical emergency can happen at any time. Farmer is hoping that by doing this training, every staff member will know what to do.

Farmer also wanted to make sure to point out how grateful his family is to the members of the Landis Fire Department, and the doctors and nurses in the ECMO and ICU at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center for their care for his mother.

Related: Damar Hamlin launches new CPR initiative as he recovers