Teacher, nurse honored with lifesaving award for aiding local student

If it weren’t for the quick actions of Beth Madill and Lissa Strecker, Vivan Pearlman would likely have not survived her cardiac arrest.

Two local educators were honored by the Enumclaw Fire Department last week for their quick thinking that led to saving the life of a local middle school student.

Last October, Enumclaw Middle Schooler Vivan Pearlman collapsed right before her history class started when her heart suddenly stopped.

With the regular teacher having stepped out fo a second, it was up to long-term substitute Beth Madill, who was watching the class, to dive into action and start CPR.

“I kind of went into autopilot, knowing that I am trained to do this,” Madill said in an earlier interview, noting that she’s taken several CPR classes but never had to administer it for real before. “I felt like time stood slow, and I was able to think and methodically go through everything. I did have a sense of calm, until much later. ”

But experts said CPR alone wouldn’t have saved Vivan, who suffers from a pair of heart defects — hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.

Nurse Lissa Strecker then quickly appeared on the scene with the school’s automated external defibrillator (AED) and shocked Vivan once as per instructions

Strecker, Madill, and Della Demerjian, the history teacher, continued chest compressions until EMS arrived on scene and got Vivan stable enough to be airlifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Seattle Children’s [Hospital] says that her school is a hero, and that they haven’t seen that response… this is not usually the outcome,” Vivan’s mother Becca said in an earlier interview. “Usually, children don’t get shocked in time, or no one knows CPR, and they don’t survive. With cardiac arrest, the only survival is CPR and being shocked. You can’t do one or the other.”

It’s been a long recovery process for the now 12-year old, who underwent heart surgery on her birthday to install a pacemaker/defibrillator, but she’s now back at school and enjoying life as a regular pre-teen.

Enumclaw Fire Chief Randy Fehr officially honored Strecker and Madill during the March 20 Enumclaw School District board meeting.

“On behalf of the Enumclaw Fire Department… I’m honored to recognize them with Citizen Lifesaving Awards,” Fehr said. “Our community and our department thank them for their compassion and dedication.”


Although Fehr says EFD has a good response time to emergencies, every second counts when a person can’t breathe.

“Citizen CPR is just a real key to the chain of survival,” he added.

And that’s why locals should download the PulsePoint app on their phones, Fehr continued, in order to increase the instances where a citizen can begin CPR before help arrives.

PulsePoint, created by the PulsePoint Foundation, allows users to receive alerts when a emergency services is being dispatched to their immediate area for a CPR call.

The app only sends alerts if the call is for a patient who is in a public place, so users won’t get an alert if the patient is inside their home.

King County fire and emergency services began using the app about a year ago, thanks to a grant from the Medic One Foundation, Fehr said.

You can learn more about PulsePoint at pulsepoint.org.