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MTC Miracle: CNA class and first responders save life of student

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 5:00 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The priority for staff at Massanutten Technical Center is to teach life-changing lessons to their students, but earlier this month one student’s life was changed forever.

Teresa Dellinger goes to MTC’s Certified Nursing Assistant Course in the evening to learn more about what she feels she does best.

“I like to do and give for others that’s where my heart’s at,” Dellinger said.

The once government contractor has done a lot of in-home care to take care of people in need. After the night of her Sept. 8 class, she feels God is telling her she’s found her calling.

“I feel God told me he has a plan for me. I’ve got bigger plans here,” Dellinger said. " I give glory to God."

Christie Pearson, the instructor for the course, said that night students had just finished practicing how to take a patient’s blood pressure.

“The last thing I remember is looking at the clock at 8:30, thinking I had an hour left and I would be in route home,” Dellinger said.

Instead, Dellinger was on her way to the hospital after passing out on the classroom floor.

“We eased her to the floor and then we were just come on Teresa come on Teresa," Pearson said. "That’s when she started to turn blue and turn purple.”

Pearson then began CPR, something she’s been teaching for years, but said she’s never been in a situation where it was needed. As she was giving chest compressions, 21-year-old Leah Brumback a classmate of Dellinger, started mouth to mouth resuscitation.

“Once she started turning blue I knew we had to get her heart pumping and get her blood moving through her body, or I knew she was not going to make it,” Brumback said.

Pearson said Dellinger kept fighting for her life, and luckily for her, first responders were right across the street from MTC’s campus.

The crew with Engine 25 was able to respond quickly and take over compressions.

Brett Biddle, the EMT who was one of the first ones to respond, said he could see the will to live Dellinger had. He said he used a defibrillator and, after working on her for more than 30 minutes, Harrisonburg Rescue Squad was able to transport Dellinger to Sentara RMH.

“[At] 2:30 a.m., I woke up in the ER with my family in the room, too bright lights and I wasn’t sure where I was,” Dellinger said.

She said she couldn’t remember anything that had happened and her doctors could not explain why she went into cardiac arrest.

Six days later, Dellinger went to pay her heroes at the Harrisonburg Fire Department and Harrisonburg Rescue Squad a visit and thank them for saving her life.

Needless to say, the crew was surprised to see her walk through their doors.

“Like I said, it is the first time I’ve been doing this for 22 years, and I’ve never had it happen before," Andrew Brunk with HFD said. "This was the first person that has done that — walked through our doors and thanked us.”

Brunk said what happened that night is a great example of why everyone should learn CPR. He said the class knew exactly what to do and played a large role in saving Dellinger’s life.

Dellinger said she feels like an angel was watching over the class that night — to have everything that was needed at the perfect place and the right time.

Dellinger is now recovering at home where she will be ready to start class back up in the spring. She said one day, she hopes she can help others just as her classmates and her heroes did for her.

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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