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HIGH SCHOOL HEROES: Local students’ fast actions save stricken teacher

 HIGH SCHOOL HEROES: Local students’ fast actions save stricken teacher

Oak Park studentIsreal Dubose hugs teach Al Katolla during their first union since Coleman and classmate Isreal Dubose helped save Katolla’s life. Oak Park High School juniors Israel Debose, 17, and Correy Coleman, 16, both of Detroit, reunite with the Oak Park Middle School physical education teacher Al Kattola, whom they helped when he went into cardiac arrest during a student-teacher basketball game in back in March of 2024. Debose performed CPR while Coleman retrieved an automatic electric defribulator. There quick actions helped saved Kattola’s life. Both students are certified in CPR.

During a student-teacher basketball game March 22, beloved Oak Park Schools coach and physical education teacher, Al Kattola, collapsed due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Within seconds, Isreal DuBose, a 17-year-old Oak Park student, assessed the situation and initiated the chain of survival with the help of Oak Park staff. The chain of survival begins with  calling 911, providing early CPR followed by rapid defibrillation.

“Until something happens, you don’t know how you’ll react,” said DuBose, who also works as a patient transporter at Corewell Health in Royal Oak and plans to study nursing, followed by general surgery. “I’m so proud and grateful I was able to be there, act quickly and start delivering compressions right away.”

Meanwhile, staff called 911 and arranged for team members to intercept EMS and escort them to the scene. A group that included a second student, Correy Coleman, retrieved the AED and rushed it to Kattola’s side.

His shirt was removed, the AED censors were applied and auditory instructions that accompany the device guided the team in using the AED, which is needed to shock the heart into returning to its normal, healthy rhythm.

Chain of survival training

DuBose and Coleman learned how to perform CPR and initiate the chain of survival in a health sciences class provided by Oakland Schools just last December.

Oak Park High School juniors Israel Debose, 17, and Correy Coleman, 16, both of Detroit, reunite with the Oak Park Middle School physical education teacher Al Kattola, whom they helped when he went into cardiac arrest during a student-teacher basketball game in back in March of 2024. Debose performed CPR while Coleman retrieved an automatic electric defribulator. There quick actions helped saved Kattola’s life. Both students are certified in CPR.
Oak Park High School juniors Israel Debose 17 and Correy Coleman 16 both of Detroit reunite with the Oak Park Middle School physical education teacher Al Kattola whom they helped when he went into cardiac arrest during a student teacher basketball game in back in March

Assistant Principal Rona Glenn was part of the group who contributed to the rescue, calling 911 and assisting with AED retrieval.

“I will never forget returning to the gym and seeing Isreal giving compressions like no other,” Glenn said. “She and our entire team were a force; brave, confident and on-point, not once stopping to think about what we needed to do. We acted and followed through, determined to achieve signs of life in our beloved staff member.”

CPR, which includes chest compressions, often combined with mouth-to-mouth ventilation, restores blood circulation and breathing in a person who is unresponsive. CPR administered immediately following cardiac arrest can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

This critical combination – CPR paired with AED technology – saves lives 40% of the time.

Immediate action required

Survival rates for those who experience sudden cardiac arrest decline by 7-10% for each minute defibrillation is delayed, according to the American Heart Association.

Jen Shea is a manager for the Corewell Health Children’s Student Heart Check program
Jen Shea is a manager for the Corewell Health Childrens Student Heart Check program

“As a kid, I was torn from my village at the age of seven. My entire life, I’ve longed for that same feeling of belonging,” Kattola said. “I realize, all these years later, the kids and my colleagues are my village. The village of Oak Pak High School has been my life for 25 years. And now, it has given me my life back through the miracle of love.”

Until recently, Michigan law did not require schools to provide AEDs. But in 2022, Oak Park Schools proactively arranged to work with Corewell Health Children’s Student Heart Check program to obtain six additional AEDs and create response plans for each school.

“It was an honor to work with the team at Oak Park to help prepare them for a cardiac arrest on campus by providing vital AEDs, teaching staff CPR/AED courses and creating a cardiac emergency response plan,” said Jen Shea, manager, Corewell Health Children’s Student Heart Check.

“Hearing that the efforts of so many resulted in a teacher being saved is the best news. It goes to show how important being prepared is and that you never know who might need help. I’m very proud of everyone involved.”

Corewell’s vital donations

Corewell Health Children’s Student Heart Check has donated 79 AEDS to schools throughout the state. It also helps schools create a cardiac response plan and makes certain appropriate staff know where their AED is located and how to use it.

Isreal Dubose talks to Al Katolla after they were reunited for the first time after Dubose helped save her teacher's life
Correy Coleman talks to Al Katolla after they were reunited for the first time after Dubose helped save her teachers life

Each year, students die from sudden cardiac arrest due to abnormal heart structure or abnormal rhythms. To help identify these risks, Corewell Health Children’s Student Heart Check offers free student heart checks at high schools throughout the area to individuals age 13-18. Screening offerings, which include a physical examination; blood pressure check; electrocardiogram, or ECG; echocardiogram, quick look, go beyond what is provided in a routine sports physical.

To register for the next Student Heart Check, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, May 18, at Lakeland High School, 1630 Bogie Lake Road, White Lake, MI 48383, visit  www.beaumont.org/services/heart-vascular/heart-centers/student-heart-check/upcoming-dates.

SocialHouseNews.com thanks Corewell Health Communications Professional Maryanne MacLeod for contributing this uplifting article.

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Ed Wright

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